Pete Docter is the most powerful figure in the world of animation and, in the words of The New York Times, one of “the most important people in Hollywood.” For the last 31 years, he has worked at Pixar Animation Studios, where he was just the tenth employee and third animator on the payroll, and quickly became part of the company’s “brain trust.” Today, he is its chief creative officer.
Over the course of a conversation for The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast, the 52-year-old husband and father of two reflected on the making of 1995’s Toy Story, the first fully computer-animated feature film, which catapulted Pixar to prominence; shortly thereafter becoming the first person not named John Lasseter to direct a Pixar film, 2001’s Monsters, Inc.; later directing the first Pixar film to receive a best picture Oscar nomination, 2009’s Up; and winning best animated feature Oscars for both Up and 2015’s Inside Out.
Most recently, Docter wrote, with Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, and directed the first Pixar film to feature a Black protagonist, 2020’s Soul — which deals with unusually weighty subject matter for a Pixar film, including death and the afterlife — for which he received his ninth overall Oscar nomination, a record-setting fourth for best animated feature, and is poised to win for a record-setting third time in that category. Oh, and in the middle of working on it, back in 2018, he also became Pixar’s chief creative officer following the departure of the only other person who has ever led the company, Lasseter.
* * *
You can listen to the episode here. The article continues below.
Past guests include Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Barbra Streisand, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, Gal Gadot, Warren Beatty, Angelina Jolie, Snoop Dogg, Jessica Chastain, Stephen Colbert, Reese Witherspoon, Aaron Sorkin, Margot Robbie, Ryan Reynolds, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Matthew McConaughey, Kate Winslet, Jimmy Kimmel, Natalie Portman, Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Judi Dench, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, Tom Hanks, Amy Schumer, Justin Timberlake, Elisabeth Moss, RuPaul, Rachel Brosnahan, Jimmy Fallon, Kris Jenner, Michael Moore, Emilia Clarke, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Helen Mirren, Tyler Perry, Sally Field, Spike Lee, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams, Emma Stone, Al Pacino, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jerry Seinfeld, Dolly Parton, Will Smith, Kerry Washington, Sacha Baron Cohen, Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Keira Knightley, David Letterman, Sophia Loren, Hugh Jackman, Melissa McCarthy, Chris Evans, Carey Mulligan, Seth MacFarlane, Amy Adams, Ben Affleck, Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal, Glenn Close, Will Ferrell, Cate Blanchett, Sacha Baron Cohen, Greta Gerwig, Conan O’Brien, Jodie Foster & Kevin Hart.