lee unkrich

lee unkrich

lee unkrich

Lee Unkrich is a renowned American documentary filmmaker and festival circuit programmer, known for his acclaimed films such as “Chronosphere,” “Son of the Ocean,” and “Toy Story 3: Theatrical Production.” He has received multiple awards for his work and is widely regarded as one of the most creative and innovative filmmakers in the industry.

Lee Unkrich, the maestro behind some of Pixar’s most beloved films, seamlessly weaves magic into animation. Hailing from the quaint town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Unkrich’s journey into the cinematic realm began at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema/Television, where he honed his craft.

Joining Pixar in 1994, Unkrich embarked on a dazzling career. His editing finesse initially graced “Toy Story” and later elevated “A Bug’s Life.” The narrative of his Pixar adventure continued to unfold, with pivotal roles in classics like “Monsters, Inc.” and the Golden Globe-winning “Toy Story 2.”

In 2010, Unkrich’s directorial prowess took the spotlight as he helmed “Toy Story 3,” clinching the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. His touch was equally enchanting in “Finding Nemo,” where he served as co-director, and later as the main force behind the underwater spectacle.

A crowning achievement awaited Unkrich with “Coco,” Pixar’s enchanting ode to Mexican culture. This masterpiece not only captured the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature but also secured the Best Song Oscar, a testament to Unkrich’s ability to craft emotionally resonant tales.

The accolades continued to pour in, with the 66th Venice International Film Festival honoring Unkrich and his Pixar compatriots with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2009. His legacy at Pixar reflects not just a directorial virtuoso but a creative force who shaped the very fabric of animated storytelling.

Beyond the glitz of Hollywood, Unkrich’s roots in television editing and directing underscore his versatility. A small-town kid with big-screen dreams, Lee Unkrich’s cinematic journey remains a testament to the power of storytelling and the magic woven by a visionary director in the world of animation.

Early life and career

lee unkrich

Lee Unkrich, the lone star from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, emerged as the sole creation of Emilie and Robert Unkrich. A product of The Cleveland Play House, his youth echoed with the cadence of acting. Unkrich’s cinematic odyssey began at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he graduated in 1990, laying the foundation for his illustrious career.

His journey through the lens took an unexpected turn when he stormed into Pixar in 1994, initially for a brief four weeks. However, destiny had other plans, and Unkrich’s tenure at the animation powerhouse extended for an awe-inspiring 25 years. His role as Vice-President of Editorial and Layout showcased his prowess in shaping narratives.

A World War II veteran father and an artist, Unkrich’s upbringing was grounded in Jewish faith. Yet, his creative spirit soared beyond these roots, landing him roles in television as an editor and director before Pixar beckoned.

The accolades continued to cascade, with the University of Southern California recognizing Unkrich’s contributions through the Mary Pickford Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011.

In a surprising twist, on January 18, 2019, Unkrich bid adieu to Pixar, choosing to step back for familial bonds and long-neglected passions.

His artistic journey took a literary turn in 2022, as he completed editing a book on “The Shining” by J. W. Rinzler. The culmination of this effort emerged in 2023 when Taschen unveiled “Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining,” a limited collector’s edition. Edited by Unkrich and co-written with Rinzler, the book added a new chapter to Unkrich’s multifaceted legacy, showcasing his ability to traverse realms of both animation and literature.


lee unkrich

Lee Unkrich’s cinematic journey through Pixar’s enchanting realm is as diverse as it is impressive. Here’s a snapshot of his prolific contributions:


  • 1995: Toy Story
  • Role: Editor
  • 1998: A Bug’s Life
  • Role: Additional Voices (Supervising)
  • 1999: Toy Story 2
  • Role: Co-Director, Additional Voices
  • 2001: Monsters, Inc.
  • Role: Co-Director, Additional Voices
  • 2003: Finding Nemo
  • Role: Co-Director, Additional Voices (Supervising)
  • 2004: The Incredibles
  • Role: Brain Trust (uncredited)
  • 2006: Cars
  • Role: Additional (Pixar Senior Creative Team)
  • 2007: Ratatouille
  • 2008: WALL-E
  • Role: Pixar Senior Creative Team
  • 2009: Up
  • 2010: Toy Story 3
  • Role: Director, Story, Editor, Voice (Jack-In-The-Box / Scotch-Taped Monkey)
  • 2011: Cars 2
  • Role: Pixar Senior Creative Team
  • 2012: Brave
  • 2013: Monsters University
  • 2015: Inside Out
  • Role: Pixar Senior Creative Team
  • 2015: The Good Dinosaur
  • Role: Executive (Pixar Senior Creative Team)
  • 2016: Finding Dory
  • 2017: Cars 3
  • 2017: Coco
  • Role: Director, Original Story, Editor, Voice (Elote Skeleton)
  • 2018: Incredibles 2
  • 2019: Toy Story 4
  • Role: Executive (Pixar Senior Creative Team)
  • 2020: Onward
  • 2020: Soul
  • Role: Special Thanks
  • 2021: Luca
  • Role: Pixar Senior Creative Team
  • 2022: Turning Red
  • 2022: Lightyear
  • 2023: Elemental


  • 1991: Prison Stories: Women on the Inside (production assistant)
  • 1991: Silk Stalkings (assistant editor, editor, director)
  • 1993: Renegade (assistant editor)
  • 1994: Betrayed by Love (assistant editor)
  • 1995: Separated by Murder (editor)


  • 2007: The Pixar Story
  • Role: Himself
  • 2022: Beyond Infinity: Buzz and the Journey to ‘Lightyear’

Shorts and TV Specials:

Unkrich’s influence extends beyond feature films, making an impact in various shorts and TV specials.

  • Noteworthy mentions include Presto (2008), The Blue Umbrella (2013), Piper (2016), and Float (2019).

This journey paints a vivid picture of Unkrich’s versatile talents, leaving an indelible mark on the world of animation and storytelling.


  • Full Name: Lee Edward Unkrich
  • Date of Birth: August 8, 1967
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Director and Film Editor
  • Pixar Tenure: Joined in 1994
  • Academic Background: Graduated from USC in 1990
  • Early Life: Native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio
  • Theater Experience: Acting at Cleveland Playhouse
  • Pixar Roles: Film Editor, Director
  • Key Films Directed: Toy Story 3, Coco
  • Academy Award Win: Finding Nemo (Best Animated Feature, 2003)
  • Toy Story 3 Release Date: June 18, 2010
  • Family: Married with three children
  • Storyboard Feedback: Uses children for feedback on ideas; Hannah Unkrich plays Molly in Toy Story films


Where did Lee Unkrich grow up?

Lee Unkrich grew up in Glencoe, Illinois. He is a film director and producer, most notably known for his work as the director of the animated Pixar films “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story 3”.

Where does Lee Unkrich live now?

Lee Unkrich, the renowned American filmmaker and animator, resides in Los Angeles, California. He has won multiple Academy Awards for his work, including Best Animated Feature for “Toy Story” and “Inside Out.” Unkrich has been involved in the animation industry for over two decades and continues to work on groundbreaking projects.

Did Pixar make Coco?

Correct, Pixar Animation Studios created “Coco”, a stop-motion animated film that explores the themes of death and Mexican traditions. The movie, which was released in 2017, was directed by Lee Unkrich and Miguel Rivera and has been praised for its colorful visuals, captivating storyline, and cultural representation.

Where does Lee Unkrich live now?

Lee Unkrich, director of the Pixar animated films Toy Story and Finding Nemo, resides in Los Angeles, California.

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