Lasseter, who directed 'Toy Story' and 'Toy Story 2,' apologized for 'unwanted' hugs

John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, has announced he will take a formal leave of absence from his positions.

In an internal memo addressed to Pixar, WDAS, and Disneytoon Studios staff members on Tuesday, Lasseter revealed his intention to take a six-month sabbatical, adding an apology “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.” Shortly after Lasseter’s memo went public, The Hollywood Reporter, published allegations of misconduct against the Pixar co-founder.

Lasseter will take a leave for six months, he wrote, “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.”

A Disney spokesperson released this statement supporting Lasseter’s 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.”

Read Lasseter’s full memo, obtained by EW, below:

As one of the earliest members of the Pixar brain trust, Lasseter became synonymous with the studio as the director of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, quickly ascending to a role as chief creative officer at both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He has produced every animated feature to emerge from Pixar (except his directorial efforts) and every WDAS feature since 2007; it is under Lasseter’s tenure that films like Bolt, Tangled, and Wreck-It Ralph led the latter studio (and its Disneytoon arm) to a recent resurgence.

Lasseter wrote and directed 1995’s Toy Story, which put Pixar on the map and earned the 60-year-old an Oscar for special achievement. In the years since, Lasseter has acted as executive producer on Pixar’s expansive list of critically acclaimed features (including this weekend’s Coco) while also helping rejuvenate Walt Disney Animation Studios as executive producer on hits like Frozen and Moana.