Animation Vet Kelly Asbury Talks John Lasseter, Chuck Jones and His New Film 'Uglydolls' in 'Behind the Screen' Podcast

Asbury, who has worked on movies from 'Beauty and the Beast' to 'Toy Story,' directed the musical 'Uglydolls,' starring Kelly Clarkson and Nick Jonas.
STXFilms; Inset: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Veteran animation director Kelly Asbury talks about the evolving animation business and his latest film, STX's Uglydolls, in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Behind the Screen podcast series.

The Cal Arts alum worked in animation as the industry shifted from traditional animation toward the use of CG, and talks about everything from starting his career at Disney, to being mentored by Chuck Jones and working on Toy Story with John Lasseter. Asked how he thinks history will remember Lasseter, Asbury admitted, an "artist, inventor and really a pioneer. I think he will always have that, and there will probably be people who say he was great, but he made some bad choices."

Asbury directed STX's Uglydolls, and in the podcast he describes the making of the musical animated feature and working with the voice cast that includes Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae, Blake Shelton and Pitbull.

The story — which celebrates kindness, diversity and friendship — follows Moxy, an optimistic Uglydoll voiced by Clarkson, whose curiosity about the world leads her and her friends from their home in Uglyville to another town, known as Perfection, where dolls are trained. Here, the Uglydolls are manipulated by Lou, voiced by Jonas, who is in charge of the training program.

Asbury's career started at Walt Disney Feature Animation, where he worked on classics including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. He also worked on Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Lasseter-helmed Toy Story before directing features including the Oscar-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Shrek 2.

Hear it all below on Behind the Screen — and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an exciting episode.