Pete Docter

Peter Hans Docter (born October 9, 1968) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer, voice actor and chief creative officer of Pixar.[2][3] He is best known for directing the Pixar animated feature films Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015) and Soul (2020), and as a key figure and collaborator at Pixar. He has been nominated for eight Oscars (two wins thus far for Up and Inside OutBest Animated Feature), seven Annie Awards (winning five), a BAFTA Children's Film Award (which he won) and a Hochi Film Award (which he won).[4] He has described himself as a "geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons".[3]

Pete Docter
Pete Docter Cannes 2015.jpg
Docter in 2015
Peter Hans Docter[1]

(1968-10-09) October 9, 1968 (age 52)
Alma materCalifornia Institute of the Arts
OccupationAnimator, director, writer, producer, voice actor
Years active1988–present
EmployerPixar Animation Studios (1990–present)
Notable work
Monsters, Inc.
Inside Out
TitleChief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios[2]
Spouse(s)Amanda Docter
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Feature
Up (2009)
Inside Out (2015)
Pete Docter signature.svg

Early lifeEdit

Docter was born in Bloomington, Minnesota, the son of Rita Margaret (Kanne) and David Reinhardt Docter.[5] His mother's family is Danish American.[6] He grew up introverted and socially isolated, preferring to work alone and having to remind himself to connect with others. He often played in the creek beside his house, pretending to be Indiana Jones and acting out scenes.[7] A junior-high classmate later described him as "this kid who was really tall, but who was kind of awkward, maybe getting picked on by the school bullies because his voice change at puberty was very rough".[3]

Both his parents worked in education: his mother, Rita, taught music and his father, Dave, was a choral director at Normandale Community College. He attended Nine Mile Elementary School, Oak Grove Junior High, and John F. Kennedy High School in Bloomington. Unlike his two sisters, Kirsten Docter, who is now the violist of the Cavani String Quartet, and Kari Docter, a cellist with the Metropolitan Opera, Docter was not particularly interested in music, although he learned to play the double bass and played with the orchestras for the soundtracks of Monsters, Inc.[8] and Up.[9]

Docter taught himself cartooning, making flip books and homemade animated shorts with a family movie camera.[3] He later described his interest in animation as a way to "play God", making up nearly living characters. Cartoon director Chuck Jones, producer Walt Disney, and cartoonist Jack Davis were major inspirations.[10]

He spent about a year at the University of Minnesota[3] studying both philosophy and making art[10] before transferring to the California Institute of the Arts, where he won a Student Academy Award for his production "Next Door" and graduated in 1990.[11] Although Docter had planned to work for Walt Disney Animation Studios, his best offers came from Pixar and from the producers of The Simpsons.[3] He did not think much of Pixar at that time,[10] and later considered his choice to work there a strange and unusual one.[12]


Pete Docter in 2009 promoting the movie Up

Before joining Pixar, Docter had created three non-computer animations, Next Door, Palm Springs, and Winter.[13] All three shorts were later preserved by the Academy Film Archive.[14] He was a fan of the company's early short films, but he knew nothing about them otherwise. He commented in an October 2009 interview, "Looking back, I kind of go, what was I thinking?"[15]

He started at Pixar in 1990 at the age of 21 after Joe Ranft recommended him for John Lasseter,[7][16][17] and began work the day after his college graduation[12] as the tenth employee at the company's animation group[10] and its third animator.[18] He first met owner Steve Jobs when Jobs came to lay off some older workers. Docter instantly felt at home in the tight-knit atmosphere of the company. He has said, "Growing up ... a lot of us felt we were the only person in the world who had this weird obsession with animation. Coming to Pixar you feel like, 'Oh! There are others!'"[3]

Docter had been brought in with limited responsibilities, but John Lasseter quickly assigned him larger and larger roles in writing, animation, sound recording, and orchestra scoring.[15] He was one of the three key screenwriters behind the concept of Toy Story, and partially based the character of Buzz Lightyear on himself.[10] He had a mirror on his desk and made faces with it as he conceptualized the character.[15]

Docter's fascination with character development was further influenced by a viewing of Paper Moon, he told journalist Robert K. Elder in an interview for The Film That Changed My Life.[19]

I like the more character-driven stuff, and Paper Moon brought that home to me in a way that I had not seen in live action, really focusing on the whole story just about characters. It was almost theatrical in the same way you might see a stage show because you're locked in a room. It's got to be about characters, and yet it was so cinematic, a film that couldn't be done in any other medium. It just kind of blew my socks off.[20]

Docter has been an integral part of some of Pixar's most seminal works, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc., all of which received critical acclaim and honors. He contributed to these animated films as a co-author to the scripts, and worked with CGI stalwarts such as John Lasseter, Ronnie del Carmen, Bob Peterson, Andrew Stanton, Brad Bird, and Joe Ranft. Docter has referred to his colleagues at Pixar as a bunch of "wild stallions".[12]

In 2004, he was asked by John Lasseter to direct the English translation of Howl's Moving Castle.[21] Docter made his directorial debut with Monsters, Inc.—the first Pixar movie not directed by Lasseter—, which occurred right after the birth of his first child, Nick. Docter has said that the abrupt move from a complete, single-minded devotion to his career to parenting drove him "upside down" and formed the inspiration for the storyline.[22] Docter then directed the 2009 film Up, released on May 29, 2009. He based the protagonist of Up partially on himself, based on his frequent feelings of social awkwardness and his desire to get away from crowds to contemplate.[7] Following the success of Up, Docter and fellow Pixar veterans John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich as well as long-time collaborator and director Brad Bird were honored with the Golden Lion Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.[23][24] Docter directed the 2015 film Inside Out to critical acclaim.

Docter appeared at Comic-Con 2008 and the 2009 WonderCon.[25]

In May 2009, Docter remarked retrospectively to Christianity Today that he had lived "a blessed life" so far.[7] The A.V. Club has called him "almost universally successful".[12] He has been nominated for eight Oscars (winning two), three Annie Awards (winning two), four BAFTA Film Awards (winning two), a British Academy Children's Award (which he won), and a Hochi Film Award (which he won).[4] Accepting his Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he said, "Never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this."[26] Docter served as Vice-President of Creativity at Pixar Animation Studios through June 2018, and following Lasseter's step-down from the role, is the studio's chief creative officer.[2][27] Also in June 2018, TheWrap reported that Docter plans to complete the film he is currently working on.[28]

Personal lifeEdit

Docter is married to Amanda Docter and has two children, Nicholas and Elie.[7] Elie has a speaking part in Up as young Ellie and was the inspiration for the character of Riley in Inside Out.[29]

Docter is a fan of anime, particularly the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Docter has said that Miyazaki's animation has "beautifully observed little moments of truth that you just recognize and respond to".[21] He is also a fan of the work done by his competitors at DreamWorks as well. Referring to the competitive environment, he has said: "I think it's a much healthier environment when there is more diversity".[12]

Docter is also a Christian. Though he incorporates his personal morality into his work, he has said that he does not intend to ever make a movie with an explicitly religious message.[10] About the relationship between his faith and his filmmaking, Docter has said:

I don't think people in any way, shape, or form like to be lectured to. When people go to a movie, they want to see some sort of experience of themselves on the screen. They don't come to be taught. So in that sense, and in terms of any sort of beliefs, I don't want to feel as though I'm ever lecturing or putting an agenda forth.[7]



Year Title Director Writer Executive Producer Other Voice Role Notes
1995 Toy Story No Original Story No Yes Supervising Animator
Story Artist
1998 A Bug's Life No No No Yes Additional Story Artist
1999 Toy Story 2 No Original Story No No
2001 Monsters, Inc. Yes Original Story No Yes CDA Agent 002 Additional Animator: Final Shot
2003 Finding Nemo No No No No Brain Trust - uncredited
2004 The Incredibles No No No Yes Henchman
2005 Howl's Moving Castle No No No Yes Director: English Dub, US Version[21]
2006 Cars No No No No Brain Trust - uncredited
2007 Ratatouille No No No Yes Pixar Productions
2008 WALL-E No Original Story No Yes Additional Voices Senior Creative Team
2009 Up Yes Yes No Yes Campmaster Strauch/Kevin Senior Creative Team - uncredited
2010 Toy Story 3 No No No Yes Senior Creative Team
2011 Cars 2 No No No Yes
2012 Brave No No Yes Yes
2013 Monsters University No No Yes Yes
2015 Inside Out Yes Yes No Yes Dad's Anger
The Good Dinosaur No No No Yes
2016 Finding Dory No No No Yes
2017 Cars 3 No No No Yes
Coco No No No Yes
2018 Incredibles 2 No No No Yes
2019 Toy Story 4 No No Yes Yes
2020 Onward No No Yes Yes
Soul Yes Yes No Yes
2021 Luca[30][31] No No Yes Yes

Short filmsEdit

Year Title Director Writer Producer Animator Role Notes
1985 Behind the Scenes at Camelot[32] No No No No Himself
1988 Winter[13] Yes Yes Yes Yes
1989 Palm Springs[13] Yes No No Yes Sigmond Dinosaur
Cranium Command No No No Yes
1990 Next Door[13] Yes No No Yes Man Next Door Composer
1997 Geri's Game No No No Yes
2002 Mike's New Car Yes Original Story No No
2005 Mr. Incredible and Pals No No No No Mr. Incredible
2009 Dug's Special Mission No No Executive No
George and A.J. No No Executive No
Let's Pollute No No No No Musician: Bass
2013 Party Central No No Executive No
2015 Riley's First Date? No No Executive No Dad's Anger
2017 Lou No No Executive No
2018 Bao No No Executive No
2019–20 Forky Asks a Question No No Executive No
2020 Lamp Life No No Executive No

Other CreditsEdit

Year Title Role
2018 Purl Special Thanks
2019 Kitbull
Frozen II
2020 Loop Story Trust
Out Special Thanks
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm


Critical, public and commercial reception to films Docter has directed as of August 29, 2020.

Film Rotten Tomatoes[33] Metacritic[34] CinemaScore[35] Budget Box office[36]
Monsters, Inc. 96% (196 reviews) 79 (35 reviews) A+ $115 million $577.4 million
Up 98% (295 reviews) 88 (37 reviews) A+ $175 million $735.1 million
Inside Out 98% (369 reviews) 94 (55 reviews) A $175 million $857.6 million
Soul 100% (22 reviews) 94 (9 reviews) TBA $150 million+ TBA

Awards and nominationsEdit

Academy AwardsEdit

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1995 Toy Story Best Original Screenplay Nominated [37]
2001 Monsters, Inc. Best Animated Feature Nominated [38]
2002 Mike's New Car Best Animated Short Film Nominated [39]
2008 WALL-E Best Original Screenplay Nominated [40]
2009 Up Best Animated Feature Won [41]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2015 Inside Out Best Animated Feature Won [42]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated

Annie AwardsEdit

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1996 Toy Story Best Individual Achievement in Animation Won
2000 Toy Story 2 Outstanding Achievement in Writing Won
2002 Monsters, Inc. Directing in a Feature Production Nominated
2010 Up Directing in a Feature Production Won
Writing in a Feature Production Nominated
2016 Inside Out Directing in a Feature Production Won
Writing in a Feature Production Won

Other awardsEdit

Year Award Category Work Result Ref
1995 Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Toy Story Nominated
2001 Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Animated Feature Monsters, Inc. Nominated
2001 Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Nominated
2008 Nebula Award for Best Script WALL-E Won
2008 Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Won
2009 Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Animated Feature Up Won
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2009 Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Won
2009 British Academy Film Awards Best Animated Film Won [43]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2009 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Nominated
2009 Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Nominated
2009 Satellite Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2015 Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Inside Out Won [44]
2015 Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Comedy Nominated
2015 British Academy Film Awards Best Animated Film Won [45]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2015 Satellite Awards Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Won
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2015 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ancestry: MN Births 1935–2002". Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Lang, Brent (June 19, 2018). "Jennifer Lee, Pete Docter to Run Disney Animation, Pixar". Variety. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Covert, Colin (May 27, 2009). "Pete Docter: The Wizard of Up". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Awards for Peter Docter. Accessed June 8, 2009.
  5. ^ "Person Details for Peter Hans Docter, "Minnesota Birth Index, 1935-2002" —".
  6. ^ "Pete Docter:reddit AMA - December 2012". Interviewly. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f What's Up, Doc(ter)? By Mark Moring. Christianity Today. Published May 26, 2009.
  8. ^ "Fun Factory". The Daily Telegraph. December 31, 2001.
  9. ^ Up Blu-Ray extra features
  10. ^ a b c d e f Sharon Gallagher (1999). "Interview with Pete Docter". Radix. 26:1. Archived from the original on April 15, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  11. ^ Worden, Leon (February 29, 2016). "CalArts Grad Pete Docter Takes Home 2nd Oscar".
  12. ^ a b c d e Pete Docter. by Tasha Robinson. The A.V. Club. Published May 28, 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d Simon, Ben (December 27, 2012). "Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2". Animated Views. Retrieved February 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  15. ^ a b c Pixar Movies Are Lousy ... at First. The Wrap
  16. ^ Q&A: Pete Docter - Hollywood Reporter
  17. ^ To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios
  18. ^ Going 'Up' with Minnesotan Pete Docter. By Euan Kerr. Minnesota Public Radio. Published May 29, 2009.
  19. ^ "The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark: Robert K. Elder: 9781556528255: Books". January 1, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  20. ^ Docter, Pete. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p171. Print.
  21. ^ a b c Interview with Up Director Peter Docter. By Beth Accomando. KPBS. Published May 29, 2009.
  22. ^ O'Connor, Aine (October 4, 2009). "Docter keeps Pixar magic on the Up". Irish Independent.
  23. ^ "Disney/Pixar to Receive Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival". California Institute of the Arts. August 24, 2009.
  24. ^ "66th Venice International Film Festival – Press Kit". Venice Film Festival.
  25. ^ "Is Pixar Going to Make Monsters Inc 2? | /Film". February 27, 2009. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  26. ^ Notable quotes from the 82nd annual Academy Awards The Associated Press, March 9, 2010.
  27. ^ Kit, Borys (June 19, 2018). "Pete Docter, Jennifer Lee to Lead Pixar, Disney Animation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  28. ^ "End of an Era: Inside Pixar on the Eve of John Lasseter's Departure". TheWrap. June 22, 2018.
  29. ^ Flores, Terry (June 10, 2015). "'Inside Out' Director Pete Docter Talks About Animation Influences, Pixar at LAFF Master Class". Variety. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  30. ^ Desowitz, Bill (July 30, 2020). "Pixar Sets Summer 2021 Release for Italian Coming-of-Age 'Luca' Feature". IndieWire. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  31. ^ Rubin, Rebecaa (July 30, 2020). "Pixar Shares Details About Next Original Film 'Luca'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  32. ^ "1985 Behind the Scenes at Camelot". Bloomington Educational Cable Television. Retrieved September 12, 2020.
  33. ^ "Pete Docter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  34. ^ "Pete Docter". Metacritic. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  35. ^ "CinemaScore". Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  36. ^ "Pete Docter Movie Box office". Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  37. ^ "1996". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  38. ^ "2002". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  39. ^ "2003". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  40. ^ "2009". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  41. ^ "2010". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  42. ^ "2016". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  43. ^ "Scene Dissection: "Up" director Pete Docter on the film's emotional opening montage". Los Angeles Times. February 25, 2010.
  44. ^ "'Inside Out' Takes Animation Golden Globe". Animation Magazine. January 11, 2016.
  45. ^ "2016 BAFTA Awards: Animated Film". British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

External linksEdit