Rashida Jones has denied a report that she dropped out of “Toy Story 4” as a writer due to “unwanted advances” from Pixar and Disney animation chief John Lasseter.
“We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences,” Jones said Tuesday in a joint statement with her writing partner, Will McCormack, to TheWrap.
“There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films,” they continued in a statement first reported in the New York Times. “However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”
The statement came in response to a Hollywood Reporter article suggesting that Jones and McCormack left the upcoming animated sequel after Lasseter made “an unwanted advance.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Lasseter announced that he would take a six-month sabbatical from Disney and the Pixar studio he has led for decades following multiple reports of sexual misconduct.
The Oscar-winning animator also apologized for what he called “missteps” in his interactions with staffers that he said made some “feel disrespected or uncomfortable.”
“Parks and Recreation” actress Jones and McCormack also went on to say: “We encourage 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.”
Previously in their statement, the pair also criticized some members of the media for their handing of the ongoing sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood. “The breakneck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible,” they said.
Lasseter is best known as one of the founders of Pixar and directed films such as “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Cars” and “Cars 2.” After Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, Lasseter was named the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he oversees all the media giant’s animated films and projects as executive producer.
He has won two Academy Awards — one for Best Animated Short Film (“Tin Toy”) and one Special Achievement Award for “Toy Story.” Pixar itself has won eight Academy Awards and the films have grossed over $6 billion at the box office, domestically.
Pixar will next release “Coco” on Thanksgiving Day, and is working on the sequel to “The Incredibles.”
See Jones and McCormack’s statement in full below.
We feel like we have been put in a position where we need to speak for ourselves. The break neck speed at which journalists have been naming the next perpetrator renders some reporting irresponsible and, in fact, counterproductive for the people who do want to tell their stories. In this instance, The Hollywood Reporter does not speak for us. We did not leave Pixar because of unwanted advances. That is untrue. That said, we are happy to see people speaking out about behavior that made them uncomfortable. As for us, 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. But it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice, as is demonstrated by their director demograpics: out of the 20 films in the company’s history, only one was co-directed by a woman and only one was directed by a person of color. We encourage 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.