Rashida Jones denies leaving Toy Story 4 over ‘unwanted advance’ from Pixar CEO John Lasseter
Pixar CEO John Lasseter has announced he will be taking a leave of absence from Disney following allegations of misconduct.
Soon after the initial report on the director was posted by The Hollywood Reporter, stories began circulating regarding Rashida Jones, claiming she stepped away from writing Toy Story 4following an “unwanted advance” from Lasseter.
Jones and writing partner Will McCormack — who also stepped away from the project — have since issued a statement calling the claims untrue.
“The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible,” their statement to The New York Times reads.
“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences.”
While acknowledging Pixar’s creative spirit, Jone and McCormack added how a lack of diversity at the studio was an integral problem for the studio.
“There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films,” they continued. “However, it is also a culture where women and people of colour do not have an equal creative voice.
“We encourage Pixar to be leaders in bolstering, hiring and promoting more diverse and female storytellers and leaders. We hope we can encourage all those who have felt like their voices could not be heard in the past to feel empowered.”
Lasseter — who directed Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars — earlier issued a statement apologising for “missteps”.
“I deeply apologise if I have let you down. I especially want to apologise 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,” Lasseter wrote. “No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.”
A Disney spokesperson said the company was committed to maintaining a respectful work environment and fully supports Lasseter’s sabbatical.