Six months ago, Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter took a self-imposed sabbatical after complaints of workplace sexual misconduct. The Wall Street Journal now writes that a "person familiar with the matter" says Disney has discussed bringing Lasseter back to the company in a new role. Lasseter would have less managerial power, potentially without the ability to hire or fire staff, but he would gain full creative influence over Pixar’s animated projects.
In November, a number of “former Pixar insiders” told The Hollywood Reporter that Lasseter was known for behavior that included “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” of women at the company. At the time, an ex-Pixar employee called Lasseter’s sabbatical "ridiculous," insisting it was "trivializing this behavior."
"To sum this up as unwanted hugs is belittling and demeaning," the employee said. "If it was just unwanted hugs, he wouldn't be stepping down."
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that Disney has allegedly often overlooked Lasseter's troubling behavior, as his “physical contact sometimes crossed the line and upper management worked diligently to protect the director from his own behavior.”
Lasseter’s potential return to Disney would mark a change in how high-profile companies have dealt with the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, particularly Hollywood companies. The general idea is to demonstrate that this inappropriate behavior is unacceptable in any way, without exceptions.
After the allegations came to light, Lasseter announced a six-month sabbatical and released a memo to his staff in which he said “it’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them.”
He continued: “It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. I especially want to apologize to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape, or form. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”
Lasseter is best known as one of the founders of Pixar and the director of iconic movies like Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Cars and Cars 2, and A Bug’s Life. Lasseter has been the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Disney Animation Studios ever since Disney bought Pixar in 2006. Lasseter himself has won two Academy Awards, one for Best Animated Film for Tin Toy and the Special Achievement Award for Toy Story.