Lasseter sent a memo to staff apologizing for making employees feel disrespected or uncomfortable, Variety has confirmed.
“That was never my intent,” he wrote. “Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. 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.”
His leave was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
Lasseter is the most powerful and influential figure in animation. As the co-founder of Pixar, he led the development of computer animation. When Disney bought Pixar in 2006, Lasseter took the helm of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lasseter has long been known as an ebullient figure around the studio’s Emeryville offices, and is a prolific hugger.
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 08: John Lasseter attends the premiere of 'Coco' at El Capitan Theatre on November 8, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Jim Morris, John Lasseter, and Ed Catmull pose for a photo during The Walt Disney Family Museum's 3rd Annual Fundraising Gala at the Golden Gate Club on November 7, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 07: John Lasseter poses for photos on the red carpet during The Walt Disney Family Museum's 3rd Annual Fundraising Gala at the Golden Gate Club on November 7, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 14: Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios John Lasseter took part today in the Walt Disney Studios animation presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. (name of film) will be released in U.S. theaters on (release date). (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 10: John Lasseter and Nancy Lasseter arrive at the premiere of Disney And Pixar's 'Cars 3' at Anaheim Convention Center on June 10, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Nancy Lasseter and John Lasseter attend the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Presley Ann Slack/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
John Lasseter attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Chief creative officer of Pixar John Lasseter arrives at the AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi premiere of Disney's 'Moana' held at the El Capitan Theatre on November 14, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Chief Creative Officer Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter attends The Walt Disney Family Museum's 2nd Annual Gala at Disneyï¿½s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at The Disneyland Resort on November 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum)
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Master of Ceremonies, Neil Patrick Harris (L) and Presenter John Lasseter speak onstage at The Walt Disney Family Museum's 2nd Annual Gala at Disneyï¿½s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at The Disneyland Resort on November 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for The Walt Disney Family Museum)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 19: President at Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, (L) and CCO at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John Lasseter, speak onstage during 'Inside the House of Disney' at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 08: (L-R) Actress Ellen DeGeneres, Executive producer John Lasseter and actor Albert Brooks attend The World Premiere of Disney-Pixarï¿½s FINDING DORY on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disney Toon Studios Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter (L) and Bennett Lasseter attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
ONCE UPON A TIME - The cast and crew of Once Upon a Time celebrated the series' 100th episode on location in Storybrooke. The 100th episode, entitled 'Souls of the Departed, airs SUNDAY, MARCH 6 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST) , on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Jack Rowand/ABC via Getty Images)
JOHN LASSETER (CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, WALT DISNEY AND PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS), NANCY LASSETER
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 17: John Lasseter arrvies at the Walt Disney Animation Studios' 'Zootopia' Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on February 17, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 17: Executive producer John Lasseter attends the Los Angeles premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios' 'Zootopia' on February 17, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
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Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October, however, some female employees have begun to discuss how Lasseter’s behavior has crossed the line into creepiness. In the letter to employees, Lasseter acknowledged that he has “recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me.”
Pixar has long been known as a “boys club,” though the company has taken steps in recent years to acknowledge and encourage its female employees.
In the memo, Lasseter said he would return to the company after a six-month “sabbatical.”
The full memo:
I have always wanted our animation studios to be places where creators can explore their vision with the support and collaboration of other gifted animators and storytellers. This kind of creative culture takes constant vigilance to maintain. It’s built on trust and respect, and it becomes fragile if any members of the team don’t feel valued. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen; and I now believe I have been falling short in this regard.
I’ve recently had a number of difficult conversations that have been very painful for me. It’s never easy to face your missteps, but it’s the only way to learn from them. As a result, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the leader I am today compared to the mentor, advocate and champion I want to be. It’s been brought to my attention that I have made some of you feel disrespected or uncomfortable. That was never my intent. Collectively, you mean the world to me, and I deeply apologize if I have let you down. 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. No matter how benign my intent, everyone has the right to set their own boundaries and have them respected.
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing dozens of women, including a number of well-known celebrities, over the past several decades.
Matt Lauer was fired from 'Today' after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct that allegedly included giving a co-worker a sex toy and dropping his pants in front of a female employee in his office.
Actor Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual assault by two women from the Amazon series, "Transparent."
Eleven women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Sen. Al Franken is accused of kissing and groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Director Woody Allen has been accused of sexual assault by his daughter, Dylan Farrow. She says she experienced inappropriate behavior by her adoptive father on several occasions.
Hundreds of women accused longtime Hollywood writer and director James Toback of sexual harassment.
(TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, according to the New York Times.
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Director Bret Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old.
Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News Channel, was accused of sexually harassing former anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women from the network.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Several women accused TV host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, including groping and lewd phone calls.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from about 60 women, including several women who claim he drugged them.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Four women, including several that were also fellow Scientologists, have accused actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault, according to HuffPost.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Mark Schwahn, the former "One Tree Hill" showrunner, was accused of sexual harassment by a large number of the show's cast and crew.
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.
Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.
(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Casey Affleck settled lawsuits out of court wth two women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Film Independent)
Bill O'Reilly has reportedly made numerous settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting a teenage girl.
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singer R. Kelly is accused of holding women against their will in houses in Illinois and Georgia in a reported 'sex cult.'
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Former Fox Host Eric Bolling was accused of sending unsolicited lewd text messages to female colleagues.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Director Roman Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Several other women have also come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
Chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after female employees reported facing sexual harassment there.
(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
Photographer Terry Richardson was labeled the 'Harvey Weinstein of Fashion' by the Sunday Times amid widespread accusations of sexual harassment by models.
(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)
Singer Kesha accused Lukasz Gottwald aka Dr. Luke of drugging and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions.
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
Former champion boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1992.
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of his former patients and athletes.
(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Music mogul L.A. Reid left his position as Epic Records CEO/Chairman in 2017 amid harassment claims by a female assistant.
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned following reports that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress' allegation of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein.
(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.
Chris Savino (right), creator of 'The Loud House' was suspended by Nickelodeon after being accused of making unwanted advances toward multiple women.
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Actor Steven Seagal was accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition's chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images,)
Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio, was accused of inappropriate conduct with two women in 1990s.
Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a production assistant when he was 48 and she was a high school senior.
Jeremy Piven was accused by actress Ariane Bellamar of groping her on two separate occasions. Piven 'unequivocally' denied the allegations.
Ben Affleck apologized for acting 'inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton during an appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in 2003.
Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual misconduct by a woman he went on a date with.
Andy Dick was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, including groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions.
(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, (D) Nevada, was accused of making repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex to a woman that once worked on his campaign.
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Actor Ed Westwick was accused by actress Kristina Cohen of raping her in his home.
David Guillod, producer of 'Atomic Blonde,' is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several woman.
(Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)
Andrew Kreisberg, the showrunner for "Supergirl," was suspended in November 2017 amid numerous sexual harassment allegations by members of his staff.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actor Tom Sizemore was reportedly told to leave a film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals.
Steve Jurvetson left his own venture capital firm after allegations of sexual harassment
(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
A former model accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him 36 years ago.
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)
Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulted her at an award ceremony in 2013.
A former writer for 'Mad Men' said the show's creator Matthew Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked.
Ron Jeremy has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women and the allegations span more than 30 years.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Multiple women accused producer Adam Fields of touching them inappropriately and sexually propositioning them.
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.
(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was accused of crossing the line with employees, including unwanted hugs.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Singer Nick Carter was accused of rape by a former member of the all-girl teen band Dream, Melissa Schuman.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
A singer accused billionaire Richard Branson of sexual assault during an event as his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Branson says he has no recollection of the matter.
Talent agent Adam Venit is accused of grabbing actor Terry Crews' genitals.
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez), Marilyn Manson former longtime bassist, was accused of rape by singer Jessicka Addams.
(Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's editorial director was fired after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for Haute Magazine)
Producer Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, has also been accused of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Jesse Lacey of the band, Brand New, was accused of sexual misconduct, including soliciting nude photos from a teen girl in the past.
(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)
Senior Correspondent for E! News Ken Baker California was accused of sexual harassment by two women.
(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
American film director Oliver Stone was accused of groping model and actress Carrie Stevens in the 1990s.
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended by the New York Times after several women accused him of acting inappropriately when they were young journalists.
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Veteran radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following claim of improper behavior.
(Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
CNN producer Teddy Davis was fired after multiple accusations of harassment.
(Photo via Twitter)
Producer Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies following sexual assault and harassment accusations from two women.
Longtime conductor James Levine was suspended by New York's Metropolitan Opera after sexual abuse claims.
(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several former employees, including forcing them to watch porn and openly discussing his sexual partners.
"X-Men" director Bryan Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy on a yacht in a lawsuit filed in December.
Harold Ford, Jr.
(Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Chef Mario Batali has been accused by multiple women of "inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades."
(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley's show was suspended amid misconduct allegations made against him.
Former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb was fired from his job as an ESPN contributor amid accusations of sexual harassment by a wardrobe stylist at the network.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Klein (D-New York), was accused of forcibly kissing a former female staffer back in 2015.
(Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)
Ross Levinsohn, Los Angeles Times CEO and publisher, has reportedly been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and would rate the "hotness" of his female colleagues, according to a report by NPR.
(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A woman accused magician David Copperfield of drugging, sexually assaulting her when she was teen model in the 80s, according to The Wrap.
James Franco was accused by several women of sexually inappropriate behavior. He was also criticized for wearing a "Time's Up" pin to the Golden Globes hours before the accusations against him surfaced.
(Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Barry Lubin, also known as Grandma the clown, resigned from Big Apple Circus after admitting to pressuring a 16-year-old girl into posing for pornographic photos in 2004.
(Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Arizona Wildcats head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired amid troubling off-field allegations. His former administrative assistant says Rodriguez inappropriately grabbed and touched her.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
President Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused of sexual assault by pro-Trump singer Joy Villa. She claims he hit her on the buttocks during an event at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Steve Wynn, Chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of peple. The Wall Street Journal the casino mogul regularly pressured employees to perform sex acts.
Music exec and 'The Four' judge Charlie Walk was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee. Life Lab founder Tristan Coopersmith penned an open letter about Walk in January claiming he sent her lewd comment and cornered her in the bedroom he shared with his wife.
(Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Vh1 Save The Music)
Several women filed sexual harassment complaints against Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, according to the Washington Post.
(Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Actor Scott Baio, was accused of molesting is former 'Charles in Charge' co-star Nicole Eggert when she was a minor.
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In my conversations with Disney, we are united in our commitment to always treat any concerns you have with the seriousness they deserve, and to address them in an appropriate manner. We also share a desire to reinforce the vibrant, respectful culture that has been the foundation of our studios’ success since the beginning. And we agree the first step in that direction is for me to take some time away to reflect on how to move forward from here. As hard as it is for me to step away from a job I am so passionate about and a team I hold in the highest regard, not just as artists but as people, I know it’s the best thing for all of us right now. My hope is that a six-month sabbatical will give me the opportunity to start taking better care of myself, to recharge and be inspired, and ultimately return with the insight and perspective I need to be the leader you deserve.
I’m immensely proud of this team, and I know you will continue to wow the world in my absence. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working together again in the new year.