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Watch The Director And Producer Of ‘Coco’ Address John Lasseter Sexual Harassment Allegations

This award season, the biggest challenge for Coco director Lee Unkrich isn’t deciding what to wear to each award ceremony; it’s pretending that his film’s executive producer, John Lasseter, doesn’t exist.

That’s because the executive producer is John Lasseter, the Disney and Pixar animation studio’s chief creative officer who is currently on a six-month leave of absence after being accused of sexually harassing a large number of women over a period of more than a decade.

When Unkrich accepted the Golden Globe for Coco last Sunday, he carefully avoided mentioning Lasseter by name in his speech, instead thanking “the executive teams at Pixar and Disney.” That’s a significant departure from year’s past, when the Disney and Pixar filmmakers have always thanked Lasseter. Big Hero 6 co-director Don Hall called Lasseter “the best boss in the world,” Zootopia producer Clark Spencer identified him as “the incredible John Lasseter,” Frozen co-director Chris Buck who called Lasseter his “fearless leader,” and Inside Out producer Jonas Rivera thanked “the amazing artists we work with at Pixar led by John Lasseter.”

The Incredible Disappearing Lasseter act became harder to pull off though during the backstage press interview when, among the standard softball questions, one journalist decided to bring up Lasseter, asking the Coco makers: “This whole event is reflecting the impact of this incredible outpouring of accusations that have really rocked this industry. Pixar has not been untouched by allegations of an environment that could be difficult for women. Has there been any changes at Pixar? Can you talk about going through that experience, even within your own company?”

A visibly uncomfortable Darla Anderson, Coco’s producer and a 25-year Pixar veteran, made the first attempt at answering the question:

Tonight obviously we wanted to focus on being in solidarity with tonight’s movement…and um…[laughs, smiles at co-director Adrian Molina]…and um…and uh…and we have been looking at a lot of things at making our environment as safe as possible and with as much integrity as possible, for sure.

Unkrich follows up, first by sidetracking the question into an issue of diversity, before finally circling back and vaguely addressing Lasseter:

It was really vital to all of us, and Darla is kind of the general of our army, being the producer of the film. From the very beginning, we tried to create an environment that really welcomed as many diverse voices as possible. Not only through the consultants that we brought in, but through the crew that we assembled. It was a very diverse crew and we’re proud of that, and we believe that all of those voices that we brought together really did help make the movie as successful as it was.

And so, moving ahead, we’re learning from the lessons of what we did on Coco. As it’s clear from everything going on in the industry, we all can improve. We can all be better. At Pixar, we have been taking steps, and we will continue to move towards making it an even better place for people to create art.

What the steps that Unkrich is referring to might be are unknown. It is yet another unanswered question, among others such as who at the Walt Disney Company knew about Lasseter’s behavior, why was it allowed to go on for as long as it did, and what kind of financial settlements has Disney reached with Lasseter’s accusers?

For now, Lasseter remains the highest-profile movie industry executive accused of extensive sexual misconduct to have gotten off scot-free. And the only publicly known consequence of his inappropriate behavior sounds more like a reward than punishment: a six-month vacation away from the studio.

Perhaps after Coco wins the Oscar in March, the Disney Company will finally make clear whether it intends to hold Lasseter accountable for his misconduct.

The backstage exchange at the Golden Globes can be seen below starting at 3:25:

  • Pedro Nakama

    Should they really bring up sexual misconduct at an awards show called Golden Globes?

    • Strong Enough

      dude that was brought all throughout the show. everyone wore black to bring awareness to sexual harassment

      • milk

        Pretty sure that was a joke there… (cue: It’s no joking matter etc etc,)

      • Tony

        I think he’s making a joke about the award’s suggestive name.

  • JodyMorgan

    I’m pretty sure that even if Anderson, Unkrich, and/or Molina would have wanted to say something more directly about it, Disney would have forbidden them from doing so. But yeah, you would think Disney has had more than enough time to decide how they’re going to punish him and how to proceed from there.

  • Matt

    I’m sorry but everyone wearing that #Times up pin is just pathetic. What does a hashtag do or wearing a pin do to help anyone. If Disney or Lee UnKrick really cared about #Times up than they would of said something and if the allegations against John Lasseter are in deed true than he should not be returning to the Disney/Pixar.

    • I’m sure that if Lee Unkrich cares, he would have. But also, I’m sure he has been given specific instructions in addressing the John Lasseter issue. Lee doesn’t write his own checks, and if he wants to stay within Pixar, he’s gonna follow those directions accordingly.

  • Jack Cassidy

    Most important question: did anyone at Pixar face negative repercussions for not allowing Jon Lasseter to hug or touch them?
    Without that information the case against him seems inflated. He engaged in bad behavior. Clumsy presumptuous acts by an old man. Lasseter didn’t expose himself to anyone. He didn’t proposition anyone for sex. He touched people in a way that was too forward. Did any of the women he touched have the backbone to tell him that he was wrong to do so?
    Please tell me that they did.
    This is not blaming the victim. I’m making a distinction between the legal definition of sexual harassment and bad behavior, and its an important distinction.
    For instance, one transgression reported is that he went to a strip club on a business trip. Lets consider that. If thats a horrible offense by him, we have indicted the vast majority of men in our country today. (and closing strip clubs must be on the future agenda of this new puritanism as businessmen are their primary clients) Is that where we are going with this?
    As a man in animation I have always viewed women as equals. I refuse to allow someone to make me a victim, and I expect that from my counterparts – and I’ll stick up for them if someone does and i expect them to stick up for me. We all work together to make a safe work environment. The women I know don’t consider themselves victims and don’t act that way
    So refresh my memory on the Lasseter case: were women told they have to allow Lasseter to hug them too long or put his hand on their knee. Did Lasseter punish women for communicating with him their boundaries.
    I have been wanting to hear those stories ever since this scandal broke and I haven’t heard a peep.
    Now that he is out of the picture (and Pixar has a high turnover rate), and the social climate is on board with the repudiation of sexual harassment, where are the Pixar employees who faced real adversity by letting their voices be heard. Did ANY employees call him out? If none of them felt like they could say anything… there’s a larger problem at Pixar than Lasseter. It sounds like there is an abusive relationship between its workers and senior management like none i have ever heard before.

    • Thalesourus

      When your boss of bosses is one of the most powerful men in the company and can lay you off with a flick of his finger, it’s a crapshoot to get into the guy’s face.

      • Fried

        That is of course assuming that everyone immediately prioritizes his job title over his personality. There are a couple of bosses I’ve had where if they were to do something inappropriate, like getting drunk around my desk during late-night hours, I would be able to tell them they need to not do that ever again without fear of getting fired because they know me.

        I’ve also had some bosses where I corrected their mistakes and told them afterwards in hopes they would learn from it and they refused to renew any of my contracts saying I was hard to work with, so it would be nice to know whether every person felt this way about Lasseter. If not a single one was friendly with him.

    • Netko

      Because a man who got to the kind of position that Lasseter has really needs to have it spelled out to him that touching women inappropriately while on the job and abusing his position of power is not okay? Should we also expect employees to teach their bosses that it’s not acceptable to slap their employees or take their possessions or burp in their face, because those poor babies are just so unaware of basic rules of professional human interaction?
      I am so glad that 2017 was the year when we spoke up against stupid excuses men make for each other and attitudes like “You can’t blame a guy for testing the waters ;)” and “Poor fella probably had no idea that being a creep is inappropriate behavior”. What is so difficult to understand about having a semblance of professionalism towards your female employees, who shouldn’t have to fear being touched or spoken to inappropriately by every male boss they have or deal with male bosses “testing the waters” when they’re just trying to do their job?

      Things like putting a hand on a woman’s leg are absolutely unacceptable to do to your employees and he’s well aware of that. We should not expect every freaked-out employee who doesn’t want to risk her career to have to deal with his advances because they come with the job.

      Also, try selling that “I don’t want to be a victim” story once sexual harassment and objectification becomes a regular part of life for you everywhere you go. It’s funny how this narrative is always pushed by members of society who experience the least amount of discrimination that they insist isn’t a big deal.

  • Nobody

    Would Disney shitcan someone for publicly calling a slimeball a slimeball? How could that not possibly backfire on them?

  • MovieChris

    Okay I got to say that is pretty disgusting how Lasseter’s name was avoided. Frankly the whole way Disney has been quiet about Lasseter is really pathetic since Disney’s iconic films/characters were toted as examples of female rights/empowerment. Hypocritical how Disney was fine with recruiting/hiring women knowing they were placing them in a dangerous environment.