Rashida Jones and her writing partner Will McCormack halted their involvement with the upcoming Toy Story 4, though it was reported by the Hollywood Reporter that they left due to Lasseter making "an unwanted advance" toward Jones.
Now Jones and McCormack are refuting the report, issuing a statement obtained by Entertainment Weekly that states they left the project due to how the company treats women and persons of color, not directly pinning the blame on Lasseter himself.
"The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible," Jones and McCormack's statement said. "We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice."
After one of Pixar's films was directed by a person of color and one other was co-directed by a woman, their statement challenged 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 announced his leave today, taking six months off from his duties at Pixar. Shortly after his decision went public, the Hollywood Reporter published alleged incidents of misconduct between Lasseter and Pixar employees.
Disney issued the following statement in the wake of the news:
"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."
Jones and McCormack were brought on to write Toy Story 4 last year. The movie is scheduled to premiere in June 2019.