Chief creative officer of Pixar John Lasseter will be leaving the company at the end of the year, according to a statement released by the company. Lasseter has been on a sabbatical from the company since November when he sent a memo to company employees apologizing for "unwanted hugs." Employees began to report he often rubbed female employees' legs inappropriately and kissed them on the lips.
"John had a remarkable tenure at Pixar and Disney Animation, reinventing the animation business, taking breathtaking risks, and telling original, high quality stories that will last forever," Disney CEO Bob Iger shared in a statement, as reported by Variety. "We are profoundly grateful for his contributions, which included a masterful and remarkable turnaround of The Walt Disney Animation Studios. One of John's greatest achievements is assembling a team of great storytellers and innovators with the vision and talent to set the standard in animation for generations to come."
The company's statement didn't describe the reasons for Lasseter's departure, while also noting that he will serve in a consulting role through the end of the year.
Lasseter also shared a statement about the departure.
"The last six months have provided an opportunity to reflect on my life, career and personal priorities," his statement read. "While I remain dedicated to the art of animation and inspired by the creative talent at Pixar and Disney, I have decided the end of this year is the right time to begin focusing on new creative challenges. I am extremely proud of what two of the most important and prolific animation studios have achieved under my leadership and I'm grateful for all of the opportunities to follow my creative passion at Disney."
The animator had been with Pixar since 1984, though it was his directorial duties on the 1995 breakout hit Toy Story that put both Lasseter and the animation studio on the map.
Despite the studio's impressive catalog of films, Lasseter will also be attached to the studio's missteps, as critics have pointed out Pixar's lack of gender or racial diversity with its storylines. Additionally, Lasseter developed a reputation for regularly crossing employee boundaries and making them uncomfortable.
Last fall, Rashida Jones parted ways as a writer from Toy Story 4, citing "creative and philosophical differences" while claiming Pixar had "a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice."
Pixar's next film, Incredibles 2, lands in theaters on June 15th.
Are you surprised by how Lasseter is handling these allegations? Let us know in the comments below!