Roger Allers (born June 29, 1949) is an American film director, screenwriter, animator, storyboard artist, and playwright. He is best known for co-directing Disney's The Lion King (1994), the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time, and for writing the Broadway adaptation of the same name. He also directed Sony Pictures Animation's first feature-length animated film, Open Season (2006) and the animated adaptation of The Prophet.

Roger Allers
Allers at the 34th Annie Awards in 2007
Born (1949-06-29) June 29, 1949 (age 75)
  • Film director
  • writer
  • animator
  • storyboard artist
  • playwright
Years active1974–present
Known forThe Lion King
Open Season
The Prophet
Leslee Hackenson
(m. 1977; div. 2020)

Life and career


Early life


Born in Rye, New York, but raised in Scottsdale, Arizona,[1] Allers became a fan of animation, at the age of five, after seeing Disney's Peter Pan (1953). Deciding that he wanted to pursue a career in animation, and even work alongside Walt Disney himself, a few years later, he sent off to Disneyland for a do-it-yourself animation kit.[1] However, Allers, by then a high school student, grew discouraged about achieving his dream when he had heard of Disney's death in 1966.[2]

Despite not getting the chance to meet Walt Disney, Allers still pressed on to receive a Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University. However, when he attended a class at Harvard University, he realized that his interest in animation had been revitalized. After receiving his degree in Fine Arts, he spent the next two years traveling and living in Greece.[1] While there, he spent some time living in a cave, and eventually met Leslee, whom he later married.[3] As a young adult, Allers accepted a job with Lisberger Studios, where he worked as an animator for projects such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Make a Wish, and various other commercials.

In 1978, he relocated to Los Angeles with Steven Lisberger to work on a feature film titled Animalympics (1980) to which he provided story work, character design and animation for the film. Three years later, Allers found work serving as part of the storyboard team for Tron, which was the first theatrical feature film he worked on. In 1980, Allers and his family moved to Toronto, Canada, where he worked for Nelvana Studios as an animator on a feature titled Rock & Rule (1983). Following a brief return to Los Angeles, Allers provided character design, preliminary animation, and story development for the Japanese-produced animated feature, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989). For the next two years, he resided in Tokyo to serve as an animation director overseeing the Japanese artists.[1]



Returning to Los Angeles in 1985, he heard that Disney was looking for a storyboard artist to work on Oliver & Company (1988). When he applied for the job, Allers was asked to draw some sample character model sheets as a tryout, and worked on a portfolio. He was hired shortly thereafter.[1] Since then, he served as a storyboard artist on The Little Mermaid (1989), The Prince and the Pauper (1990), and The Rescuers Down Under (1990). For Beauty and the Beast (1991), he was appointed as Head of Story, leading a team of story artists to illustrate sketches from Linda Woolverton's screenplay.[4] When Beauty and the Beast was nearly finished, Allers joined the King of the Jungle project as a director alongside George Scribner.[5] He temporarily left the project to help storyboard sequences for Aladdin (1992).[5][1]

In October 1991, Allers rejoined King of the Jungle, in which he recruited Brenda Chapman, who would become the film's Head of Story. Afterwards, several of the lead crew members, including Allers, Scribner, Chapman, and production designer Chris Sanders, took a safari trip to Kenya, in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. After six months of story development work, Scribner decided to leave the project, as he disagreed with the decision to turn the film into a musical, as Scribner's intention was to make a documentary-like film more focused on natural aspects.[6] Following Scribner's departure, and dissatisfied with the original story, Allers along with Don Hahn, Sanders, Chapman, and Beauty and the Beast directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale conceived a new story outline for the film over the course of two days in February 1992.[7] In April 1992, Rob Minkoff was added as a co-director,[1] and the title was changed to The Lion King (1994).

Following the release of The Lion King (1994), Allers and writer Matthew Jacobs conceived the idea of Kingdom of the Sun,[8] and development on the project went underway in 1994.[9] Meanwhile, Disney Theatrical Group had begun production on the Broadway musical adaptation of The Lion King as they had done with Beauty and the Beast (1994).[10] At first skeptical,[11] Allers joined the Broadway production team, and together with Lion King co-screenwriter Irene Mecchi, they wrote the libretto. At the 52nd Tony Awards, both Allers and Mecchi were nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. The musical itself won the Tony Award for Best Musical.[12]

After nearly four years on Kingdom of the Sun, Allers decided to leave the project due to creative differences with Mark Dindal and Peter Schneider, then-president of animation at Disney.[13] Ultimately, the project was reworked into The Emperor's New Groove (2000), and Allers left to work on Lilo & Stitch (2002) as a story artist. In 2001, he was approached by Hahn to direct the short film, The Little Matchgirl (2006).[14] The project underwent about two years of work, as it was planned to be attached with the proposed Fantasia 2006 film. It was however included as a bonus feature on The Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD. At the 79th Academy Awards, The Little Matchgirl was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.[15][16]

Meanwhile, Allers pitched the Celtic folk ballad tale Tam Lin to Michael Eisner, who at the time was in a corporate struggle with Roy E. Disney. Once Eisner recognized the project was Disney's "baby", he declined to green-light the project.[5]



In May 2003, it was announced that Allers and Brenda Chapman would direct Tam Lin for Sony Pictures Animation.[17] However, one year later, Allers was recruited as an additional director on Open Season (2006) alongside director Jill Culton and co-director Anthony Stacchi, and featuring the voice talents of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher.[18]

In January 2012, it was announced that Allers will oversee the narrative structure, as well as supervise the production of an animated adaptation of The Prophet.[19][20] In May 2014, a work-in-progress version of The Prophet (2014) was screened at the Cannes Film Festival,[21] and was given a limited release in August 2015.[22]

Personal life


Allers married Leslee Hackenson in 1977. In March 2020, Allers filed for divorce from Hackenson.[23] They have a daughter, Leah, and a son, Aidan.[1][2]


Year Title Credits Notes
1980 Animalympics Character Development / Story / Animator Television film
1982 Tron Pre-production concepts
1983 Rock & Rule Animator
1988 Oliver & Company Story
1989 The Little Mermaid Storyboard Artist
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland Animator Uncredited
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Storyboard Artist
The Prince and the Pauper
1991 Beauty and the Beast Head of Story
1992 Aladdin Story
1994 The Lion King Director (with Rob Minkoff)
2000 The Emperor's New Groove Story: Kingdom of the Sun (with Matthew Jacobs)
2002 Lilo & Stitch Additional Story Artist (with John Sanford)
The Sweatbox Himself Documentary
Return to Never Land Storyboard Artist
2004 The Lion King 1½ Additional screenplay material
2006 The Little Matchgirl Director / Story Adaptation
Open Season Director (with Jill Culton)
2007 Surf's Up Special Thanks
2010 Waking Sleeping Beauty Himself / Caricaturist Artist Documentary
2014 The Prophet Director / Screenplay
2018 Howard Himself Documentary
2019 The Lion King Thanks / The filmmakers would like to thank


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Lion King: Film Notes" (Press release). Walt Disney Pictures. May 25, 1994. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2015 – via
  2. ^ a b "Roger Allers biography and filmography". Tribute Entertainment Media Group. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  3. ^ "Roger Allers Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on January 28, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Thomas, Bob (1991). Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast. New York: Hyperion. pp. 149–150. ISBN 1-56282-899-1.
  5. ^ a b c Fiamma, Andrea (12 December 2014). "Intervista a Roger Allers, il regista de Il Re Leone". Fumettologica (Interview). Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^ The Lion King: A Memoir (Blu-Ray). The Lion King Diamond Edition: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2011.
  7. ^ "Roundtable Interview: The Lion King". (Interview). September 28, 2011. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  8. ^ Laporte, Nicole (May 24, 2011). The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks. Mariner Books. pp. 208–209. ISBN 978-0-547-52027-8.
  9. ^ Kuklenski, Valerie (December 13, 2000). "Finding the Groove". Los Angeles Daily News. The Sun Sentinel. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Armstrong, Josh (October 8, 2011). "Allers & Minkoff: The Legacy of The Lion King". Animated Views (Interview). Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  11. ^ Musical Origins (DVD). The Lion King Platinum Edition: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. October 7, 2003.
  12. ^ Shirley, Don (May 5, 1998). "'Ragtime,' 'Lion' Top Tony Nods". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  13. ^ Hill, Jim (May 8, 2001). "The Long Story Behind the Emperor's New Groove". The Laughing Place. Archived from the original on January 12, 2002. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  14. ^ Marshall, George T. (August 2006). "Jump Cut" (PDF). Rhode Island International Film Festival. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  15. ^ Barbagallo, Ron (2006). "Shedding Light on The Little Matchgirl". Animation Art Conservation. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  16. ^ Armstrong, Josh (March 5, 2007). "Director Roger Allers on The Little Matchgirl". Animated Views (Interview). Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  17. ^ Harris, Dana (May 8, 2003). "Sony tooning new animation unit". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  18. ^ DeMott, Rick (October 1, 2004). "Lion King Director Up for Open Season, Writers for Surf's Up". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  19. ^ McLean, Tom (January 16, 2012). "'Lion King's' Roger Allers Joins Animated 'Prophet'". Animation. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  20. ^ C. Edwards (June 22, 2013). ""Lion King" Director Roger Allers and Salma Hayek Push Forward on "The Prophet"". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  21. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (May 14, 2014). "CANNES: Salma Hayek On Producing 'Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet' (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  22. ^ King, Darryn (March 26, 2015). "'Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet' Gets US Release Date". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  23. ^ "Allers, Roger vs Hackenson, Leslee". UniCourt. Retrieved January 19, 2022.