Here's a refresher course in case you're not entirely familiar with the John Lasseter story.
Last year, THR detailed Pixar‘s Lasseter taking a leave of absence for behavior that their source qualified as “missteps,” but which also left the staff Lasseter was working with feeling “disrespected or uncomfortable.” When more details came to fruition, it turned out that Lasseter was accused of “grabbing, kissing, making comments about physical attributes” towards women, "to the extent that employees created a move known as “the Lasseter” to avoid having him touch their legs." Actress Rashida Jones, a credited writer on the upcoming “Toy Story 4,” left the project due to “creative differences,” which also turned out to having to do with Lasseter's aforementioned "missteps." Lasseter eventually stepped down from the company.
This past week he was hired by Skydance Animation. Lasseter is known as an animation genius in the industry so it isn’t too surprising to learn that a toon company wants his services, but many do think that his punishment should have been to just fade away into oblivion never to be heard of again. Yeah, fat chance.
Suffice to say, people are not happy about Skydance’s decision, but Lasseter’s collaborator, and fellow animation genius, Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) is defending his friend [via Daily Beast]. The filmmaker is complimentary of Lasseter and thinks that what the executive is accused of isn’t nearly as bad as Harvey Weinstein’s behavior. His point seems to be that given all the accusations currently happening in the #MeToo era, there’s a lack of subtletly and nuance involved, which consequentially prevents people from separating Lasseter from the more severe predators such as Weinstein.
“These times are not good for nuance,” Bird says. “You’re either 100 percent for something or you’re 100 against something.”
“I don’t at all put John in a category with Weinstein,” the filmmaker says. “You’re navigating a world where men have acted a certain way for thousands of years. Way too late, but all of a sudden, they’re expected to change that on a dime and it’s necessary and it’s right. But it’s a little bit a gray area. It’s not as hard of a cut as people want to make it. I’m an old friend of John’s and I don’t see him in black and white. I see him as a person like anyone else. He was a person who was very protective of us at a time when we needed it. So my feelings are a little bit more complicated.”
Bird goes on to add that Lasseter went to bat for him to make "The Incredibles" when nobody else at Pixar would, especially after Bird's brilliant "The Iron Giant" bombed at the box-office.