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Lee Unkrich

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Lee Unkrich
Lee Edward Unkrich

(1967-08-08) August 8, 1967 (age 56)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
  • Film editor
  • director
  • writer
Years active1990–present
EmployerPixar Animation Studios (1994–2019)
Laura Century
(m. 1993)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Coco (2017)

Lee Edward Unkrich (born August 8, 1967) is an American film director, editor and writer. He is best known for his work with animation studio Pixar, which he joined in 1994 as an editor before being credited as a co-director on Toy Story 2 (1999).

Following the film's success, Unkrich served a similar role for the films Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Finding Nemo (2003) before making his solo directorial debut with Toy Story 3 (2010). The film, along with the second of which he directed, Coco (2017), both won two Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.

After his 25-year tenure at the company, Unkrich retired in January 2019 to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.[2][3]

Early life and career[edit]

Unkrich was raised in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, the only child of Emilie Unkrich and Robert Unkrich. His father was a World War II veteran ("He stormed the beach at Normandy") and artist.[4] Unkrich was raised in the Jewish faith.[5] He spent his youth acting at The Cleveland Play House. Unkrich graduated from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in 1990.[6]

Unkrich was Vice-President of Editorial and Layout at Pixar.[citation needed] Before joining the studio, Unkrich worked for several years in television as an editor and director. In 1994 he was hired by Pixar as a short-term employee for a period of four weeks, but ended up staying for 25 years.[7] He is the 2011 recipient of the University of Southern California's Mary Pickford Distinguished Alumni Award recognizing alumni contributions to the cinematic arts.[citation needed]

On January 18, 2019, Unkrich announced he was leaving Pixar to spend time with his family and pursue interests that have "long been back-burnered."[8][9] In 2023, Unkrich was revealed to have occasionally consulted at Pixar since leaving in 2019.[10]

In late 2022 he announced he had completed editing a book about The Shining, written by J. W. Rinzler.[11]

In 2023, Taschen released Unkrich's book "Stanley Kubrick's The Shining" in a limited collector's edition. The book was edited by Unkrich, and written by J. W. Rinzler and Unkrich.

Personal life[edit]

Unkrich is married to Laura Century and they have three children.[1] Unkrich came out as bisexual to his family and friends in 2021 and came out publicly in 2022.[12][13]



Year Title Director (Original)
Story by
Other Voice Role Notes
1995 Toy Story No No Yes No No
1998 A Bug's Life No No Supervising No Yes Additional Voices
1999 Toy Story 2 Co-Director No Yes No Yes Red Rocker[14] Additional Story Material
2001 Monsters, Inc. Co-Director No Additional No Yes Additional Voices
2003 Finding Nemo Co-Director No Supervising No Yes Additional Voices
2004 The Incredibles No No No No No Brain Trust - uncredited
2006 Cars No No Additional No No
2007 Ratatouille No No No No No
2008 WALL-E No No No No Yes Pixar Senior Creative Team
2009 Up No No No No Yes
2010 Toy Story 3 Yes Yes Yes No Yes Jack-In-The-Box / Scotch-Taped Monkey Additional Screenplay Material
Pixar Senior Creative Team
2011 Cars 2 No No No No Yes Pixar Senior Creative Team
2012 Brave No No No No Yes
2013 Monsters University No No No Yes Yes
2015 Inside Out No No No No Yes
The Good Dinosaur No No No Yes Yes
2016 Finding Dory No No No No Yes
2017 Cars 3 No No No No Yes
Coco Yes Yes Yes No Yes Elote Skeleton
2018 Incredibles 2 No No No No Yes
2019 Toy Story 4 No No Additional Yes Yes
2020 Onward No No Additional No Yes
Soul No No No No Yes Special Thanks
2021 Luca No No No No Yes Pixar Senior Creative Team
2022 Turning Red No No No No Yes
Lightyear No No No No Yes
2023 Elemental No No No No Yes


  • Prison Stories: Women on the Inside (1991) (TV) (production assistant)
  • Silk Stalkings (1991) (TV Series) (assistant editor, editor, director)
  • Renegade (1993) (TV series) (assistant editor)
  • Betrayed by Love (1994) (TV) (assistant editor)
  • Separated by Murder (1995) (TV) (editor)


Year Title Role
2007 The Pixar Story Himself
2022 Beyond Infinity: Buzz and the Journey to 'Lightyear' [15]

Shorts and TV specials[edit]

Year Title Role
2000 For the Birds Thanks
2002 Mike's New Car Special Thanks
2008 Presto
2011 Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation
2013 The Blue Umbrella
Toy Story of Terror! Extra Special Thanks
2014 Toy Story That Time Forgot
Lava Special Thanks
2015 Sanjay's Super Team
2016 Piper
2018 La Noria
2019 Float
2020 Loop Story Trust
2021 Pixar Popcorn: A Day in the Life of the Dead Special Thanks
2022 Cars on the Road: Gettin’ Hitched Pixar Senior Creative Team


  1. ^ a b c O'Connor, Michael "Clint" (June 12, 2010). "'Toy Story 3': Director Lee Unkrich, from Chagrin Falls, doesn't want to break Pixar's golden streak". Cleveland.com. City of Cleveland, State of Ohio. Archived from the original on September 10, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  2. ^ "'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich Leaving Pixar After 25 Years (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. January 18, 2019. Archived from the original on January 19, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Seddon, Dan (January 20, 2019). "Toy Story 3 and Coco director Lee Unkrich leaves Disney Pixar". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on January 23, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  4. ^ Unkrich, Lee [@leeunkrich] (December 11, 2017). "My father, Bob Unkrich, died tonight at 93. He was an artist and a World War II Army hero. He stormed the beach at Normandy. I'm so thankful I was able to spend time with him last week and show him Coco. He loved it. He'll be on our ofrenda next year. I'll always remember him. https://t.co/ShvCMB0ZLQ" (Tweet). Archived from the original on December 11, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2022 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "'Coco' Ready for Thanksgiving Weekend Fireworks at the Box Office". November 21, 2017. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  6. ^ Notable Alumni Archived August 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, USC School of Cinematic Arts; accessed March 10, 2008.
  7. ^ Unkrich Talks 'Toy Story' Trilogy | Animation World Network
  8. ^ Welk, Brian (January 18, 2019). "Lee Unkrich, Director of 'Coco' and 'Toy Story 3,' to Leave Pixar After 25 Years". The Wrap. Archived from the original on January 19, 2019. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
  9. ^ Evangelista, Christiano (January 18, 2019). "'Coco' and 'Toy Story 3' Director Lee Unkrich Leaving Pixar After 25 Years". slashfilm.com. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved August 23, 2020. After twenty-five incredible years, I've decided to leave Pixar. The time has come for new adventures. I'm not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered.
  10. ^ Taylor, Drew (July 5, 2023). "Inside Pixar's Existential Crisis and How It Can Bounce Back After Disney+ Stole Its Mojo". TheWrap. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
  11. ^ 'I got a bit drunk with the twins': Toy Story 3's Lee Unkrich on his obsession with The Shining
  12. ^ Unkrich, Lee [@leeunkrich] (March 8, 2022). "@beames_josh @DanaLightyear I actually merely posted the bi pride flag on Bisexual Awareness Day. Just making sure you have your facts correct. That said, yes I am. 😊🏳️🌈" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 3, 2022. Retrieved December 2, 2022 – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Unkrich, Lee [@leeunkrich] (October 11, 2022). "Coming out last year was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I'm grateful for the support of my family and friends. I stand with those who have always been out, those who have recently come out, and especially those who cannot or aren't ready to come out. #NationalComingOutDay https://t.co/JOJlop1M73" (Tweet). Retrieved December 2, 2022 – via Twitter.
  14. ^ "Beloved Pixar Characters Voiced by Pixar Filmmakers". Oh My Disney. August 26, 2016. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  15. ^ T.J. Wolsos (June 10, 2022). "Buzz Lightyear Documentary 'Beyond Infinity' Now on Disney+". Pixar Post. Retrieved July 2, 2022.

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