John Lasseter, the co-founder of Pixar and chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation took a leave from those companies over allegations of harassment and misconduct, including (as one anonymous source put it) “grabbing, kissing, [and] making comments about physical attributes” of women at Pixar—activities that Lasseter characterized as “unwanted hugs.” When he took his leave, Lasseter implied that he would be taking the holidays off and would return at some point in 2018, but The Hollywood Reporter now believes that he won’t be returning at all.
One “veteran” of the company says Disney CEO Bob Iger is “not anxious to take on defending somebody” with the reputation that Lasseter has, so it seems unlikely that he’ll willingly take on the PR nightmare that welcoming Lasseter back would be. On top of that, a source who used to work at Pixar says that allowing him to return to Pixar would “kill women in animation,” adding, “The message will be so clear: Shut up and take it.”
Apparently, though, Lasseter’s issues at Pixar go back a long time, with the THR story exploring years of bad behavior that the now-disgraced animation icon has been accused of. He would supposedly drink heavily at company parties, and he had a habit of bullying and belittling employees that would only get worse when he drank. “That happy-ass guy in the Hawaiian shirt? That was a well-crafted persona,” says one former colleague.
Other insiders say that Steve Jobs, once a majority shareholder and CEO at Pixar, was one of the few people who could keep Lasseter in check, and after he died Lasseter began to push employees around more and would force them out of the company if they refused to bend to his will. The suggestion in the Hollywood Reporter piece is that Lasseter’s alleged behavior was an open secret at Disney and Pixar, but nobody wanted to do anything about it because they were afraid of him or because he had convinced everyone that he was the singular genius responsible for creating the studio’s biggest hits.