John Lasseter Biography

(Animator & Director of Several Pixar Films Like 'Toy Story,' 'A Bug's Life,' & 'Cars')

Birthday: January 12, 1957 (Capricorn)

Born In: Los Angeles, California, United States

John Lasseter is an American animator, screenwriter, and director, best known for his association with major animation film studios such as ‘Walt Disney’ and ‘Pixar Studios.’ Born in California, he inherited his love for arts and animation from his mother, who worked as an art teacher at a local high school. Following his high-school graduation, he joined the ‘California Institute of the Arts’ and completed a character animation program. Following his graduation from the university, he began working for ‘Walt Disney’ and eventually realized that CGI technology had a lot of potential in the future. He thus tried getting his superiors at ‘Disney’ to adapt to the technology. However, he was fired. Following this, he joined ‘Pixar’ and became involved in the production of critically and commercially successful films such as ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Cars,’ ‘Monsters Inc.,’ and ‘Toy Story 2.’ He came to be known as one of the most successful animation filmmakers of all time. ‘Disney’ took over ‘Pixar’ in 2007, and John was hired as the chief creative officer. However, in 2018, he was accused of sexual misconduct at the workplace and was asked to leave the company.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: John Alan Lasseter

Age: 66 Years, 66 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Nancy Lasseter

father: Paul Eual Lasseter

mother: Jewell Mae

siblings: James Paul Lasseter, Johanna Lasseter-Curtis, Pamela Jane Lasseter

children: Bennett Lasseter, Jackson Lasseter, Joey Lasseter, Paul James Lasseter, Sam Lasseter

Born Country: United States

Animators Directors

Height: 1.7 m

U.S. State: California

City: Los Angeles

More Facts

education: California Institute Of The Arts

awards: 2007 - Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film
1989 · Tin Toy - Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
2010 · Prep & Landing - Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program

1996 · Toy Story - Special Achievement Academy Award
2011 · Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa - Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Animated Program
2002 - PGA Vanguard Award
2009 - Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement
2004 - ADG's Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award
2010 - PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Motion Pictures
2000 · Toy Story 2 - Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production
2000 · Toy Story 2 - Annie Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Feature Production

Childhood & Early Life
John Alan Lasseter was born on January 12, 1957, in Hollywood, California, U.S., into the upper-middle-class orthodox Christian family of Paul Lasseter and Jewell Mae. His mother worked as an art teacher at a local high school. His father worked at a ‘Chevrolet’ dealership outlet. John grew up with his twin sister, Johanna, who happens to be a few minutes older than him.
His family attended church regularly during his early years in Whittier, California. Owing to his mother’s occupation, John became increasingly interested in the prospect of becoming an animator. He was a great admirer of the famous American animator Chuck Jones and watched many of his animated programs on TV as a kid. He was a big fan of cartoon characters such as ‘Bugs Bunny’ and ‘Daffy Duck.’
While in high school, he wrote to ‘Walt Disney Studios’ in the hope of finding some work there. However, nothing happened. He read ‘The Art of Animation.’ written by animator Bob Thomas. The book narrated the behind-the-scenes story of how the ‘Disney’ animated film ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ was made, which inspired him to a great extent.
By the time he graduated high school, he had become sure about becoming an animator. As his mother belonged to the arts industry, he had her full support. He joined the character animation program of the ‘California Institute of the Arts.’ In the early 1970s, ‘Disney’ started an animation course at the institute, and John was one of the first students to sign up for the classes.
He had future animators such as Tim Burton and Brad Bird as his fellow classmates. He believes that experience was enlightening for him. His student films ‘Lady and the Lamp’ and ‘Nitemare’ won a student ‘Academy Award’ each.
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Following his graduation in 1979, he was immediately hired by ‘Disney.’ Incidentally, he had been working at ‘Disneyland,’ Anaheim, during his summer breaks while he was in college. This turned into a full-time job after he graduated.
In the late 1970s, ‘Disney’ was subjected to criticism for repeating themselves and not presenting any fresh content to their audience. In search of new talent, the company began hiring actively. Soon, 10,000 applications were received. Of them, ‘Disney’ shortlisted 150, while 45 were hired as full-time animators. John was one of them. He thus began working as an animator at ‘Walt Disney Productions.’
One of his first projects was titled ‘Musicana,’ which was never released but gave the executives a glimpse into John’s talent. However, it led to the eventual production and release of the animated series titled ‘Fantasia 2000,’ later, in 1999.

In the early 1980s, John Lasseter felt that the animation industry needed some innovation to keep the audience engrossed. ‘101 Dalmatians’ was one of the films that gave John a reality check that they needed some big change. Incidentally, back then, computer-generated imagery, better known as CGI, was finding a footing in the industry, with films such as ‘Tron’ spearheading the revolution.

He understood that 3D animation could make the audience feel more engrossed while watching a film. He decided to include the technology in his works. As his first attempt, John and Glen Keane, decided to do a small experiment of mixing traditional animation with computer-generated animation in their adaptation of the picture book ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’

However, things did not go well. John Lasseter�ended up getting fired by ‘Disney Studios.’ Upset, he went out in search of some other work. He had known Ed Catmull, who worked at the ‘Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group.’ He met Ed again and pitched a short animation project called ‘The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.’ The film materialized and was appreciated by many.

His dream project, the CGI-animated short film ‘The Brave Little Toaster’ had repeatedly failed to acquire funding. In 1984, he joined ‘Lucasfilm Studio’ as a full-time animator. There, he learned the basics of computer science and taught their scientists the basics of arts and animation.
By the mid-1980s, ‘Lucasfilm’ had been renamed ‘Pixar Graphics Group,’ and most of its shares had been purchased by Steve Jobs. It eventually became a separate film group after George Lucas almost went bankrupt and sold the company.

John Lasseter was one of the founding members of the company and oversaw the production of many ‘Pixar’ films such as ‘Toy Story’ and ‘A Bug’s Life.’ ‘Toy Story’ became America’s first animation film that completely relied on CGI and received rave reviews. At the ‘Academy Awards’ in 1995, John won the ‘Special Achievement Award.’ He also won great reviews for directing films such as ‘Toy Story 2,’ ‘Cars,’ and ‘Cars 2.’

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Over time, he became one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed animation film producer, with films such as ‘Monsters, Inc,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ and ‘The Incredibles,’ among other successful ‘Pixar’ films. ‘Pixar’ soon became synonymous with ground-breaking animation films.
In January 2006, ‘Walt Disney’ announced that they were purchasing ‘Pixar.’ John thus began working for ‘Disney’ once again. He was given the position of the chief creative officer at both ‘Pixar’ and ‘Disney.’ He was one of the top men in the company and was answerable only to the CEO, Bob Iger.

At ‘Disney,’ John Lasseter�spearheaded a program to produce some short animated films to be released theatrically. They hired new talent to make those films. It was part of ‘Disney’s long-term plans of expansion, for which they needed new talent.

In 2007, he collaborated with Ed Catmull yet again. They were given the responsibility of running ‘Disneytoons.’ Hence, ‘Disney’ was divided into three segments: ‘Pixar,’ ‘Walt Disney,’ and ‘Disneytoon.’
He has also been a huge admirer and friend of popular Japanese animation film director Hayao Miyazaki. He oversaw the American dubbing and soundtrack of Hayao’s Japanese animation films in the West. Hayao’s film ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ had a “forest spirit” character, which appeared as one of the toys in John’s ‘Toy Story 3.’
From the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s, he served on the board of governors of the ‘Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.’

Since January 2019, John Lasseter has been working as the head of ‘Skydance Animation.’

In 2017, he was the center of a controversy when he was accused of sexual misconduct at the workplace. In June 2018, ‘Disney’ made an announcement stating that John was going to leave the company by the end of the year.
Family & Personal Life
In 1988, John Lasseter married Nancy, a computer graphics engineer. The couple has four sons together.
His film ‘Cars’ stemmed from his obsession with motor vehicles, which he inherited from his father.
He is also a huge fan of Hawaiian shirts and owns about 1,000 Hawaiian printed shirts.

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