Before he jumped aboard one of the best animation studios in the business, Unkrich was an editor for television. He then started his career at Pixar in 1994, having edited Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. He duties at the studio then increased as he edited and co-directed Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and Monsters Inc. After that, he went on to direct films like Toy Story 3 and Coco, which both won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.
While his exit was amicable, it does come after John Lasseter’s disgraced exit from Pixar. Still, Unkrich’s colleagues had nothing but praise for him. Pete Docter, who directed Monsters Inc. and became Pixar’s chief creative officer after Lasseter’s exit, said:
“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting. His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made.”
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, added:
“Lee has left an indelible mark on the world of film and we are so grateful for the passion and talent he has brought to each movie he has worked on. He’ll always be part of the Disney-Pixar family, and we will miss him.”
Below we have a few select videos of Unkrich making his Academy Award-winning speech for Coco, talking about some films from the Criterion Collection, and finally, the heartbreaking scene from the end of Toy Story 3.