Rashida Jones Reveals Why She Left Toy Story 4 as Pixar Boss John Lasseter Takes Leave of Absence
Rashida Jones has left the upcoming Toy Story 4 due to “creative and philosophical differences” and not because of an alleged encounter with Pixar boss John Lasseter.
The actress and writer was signed on to co-write the screenplay for the upcoming sequel but left the project early on.
While The Hollywood Reporter claimed it was because Lasseter was inappropriate, Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack – who are still credited as writers on the movie set to be released in 2019 – released a statement late Tuesday denying that was the reason, instead said it was for a number of reasons including the alleged treatment of women of color by the company.
“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue,” Jones said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE about the alleged reason she ended her Pixar partnership. That said, we are happy to see people speaking out about behavior that made them uncomfortable. As for us, we parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences,” Jones’ statement said.
“There is so much talent at Pixar and we remain enormous fans of their films. But it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice, as is demonstrated by their director demographics: out of the 20 films in the company’s history, only one was co-directed by a woman and only one was directed by a person of color. 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,” her statement said.
Lasseter is taking a sabbatical from his post as head of Pixar and Walt Disney animation after sending a memo apologizing to staff on Tuesday about any inappropriate behavior. “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,” he wrote in the memo obtained by PEOPLE.
A Disney spokesperson tells PEOPLE that the company supports his decision. “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,” they said in a statement.
The Hollywood Reporter quotes a longtime Pixar employee who said Lasseter was known for “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” at the company. The report also quotes a longtime insider who allegedly witnessed Lasseter repeatedly rest his hand on a woman’s leg during a meeting 15 years ago.
“She was bent over and [had her arm] across her thigh. The best I can describe it is as a defensive posture … John had his hand on her knee, though, moving around,” the insider recalled to THR.
Lasseter directed Toy Story and Toy Story 2 among other Pixar films, and has produced or executive produced every Pixar project.