Pixar executive John Lasseter took a leave of absence Tuesday after issuing a memo to employees about “painful conversations” he’s had lately about unspecified “missteps.”
“I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be,” the 60-year-old chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios and Disney Animation Studios wrote. (RELATED: Kevin Spacey Reportedly Joins Harvey Weinstein In Sex Addiction Rehab)
“It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable,” he added. “That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down.”
Lasseter also issued a blanket apology in the letter 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.”
“As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now,” Lasseter explained. “My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.”
A spokesperson for Disney sent out a statement later in the day that read, “We are committed to maintaining an environment in which all employees are respected and empowered to do their best work. We appreciate John’s candor and sincere apology and fully support his sabbatical.”
The memo came out as The Hollywood Reporter was working on an expose about alleged sexual misconduct by Lasseter.
He directed Pixar’s first animated movie “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” among other Pixar films.