Kelly Asbury
Asbury in 2016
Kelly Adam Asbury

(1960-01-15)January 15, 1960
DiedJune 26, 2020(2020-06-26) (aged 60)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Alma materLamar University California Institute of the Arts
Occupation(s)Film director, writer, voice actor, illustrator
Years active1982–2019
Employer(s)Walt Disney Animation Studios (1983–1995, 2009–2013)
DreamWorks Animation (1995–2009)
Notable workSpirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
Shrek 2
Gnomeo & Juliet
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Loretta Weeks
(m. 1990; div. 2006)
Jacquie Boggs
(m. 2011)

Kelly Adam Asbury (January 15, 1960 – June 26, 2020) was an American film director, writer, voice actor, and illustrator. He was best known for directing animated films, including Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Gnomeo & Juliet, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and UglyDolls.

Early life

Asbury was born on January 15, 1960 Beaumont, Texas, the son of Josephine Margaret (Lebeouf) and Donald Leslie Asbury. His father Donald died from cancer when Asbury was 12.[1] He attended Lamar University for two years before transferring to the renowned California Institute of the Arts in 1980, where he studied animation and filmmaking.[2]


Asbury got his start at Walt Disney Feature Animation from 1983 to 1995, and contributed storyboards for several animated films including The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, as well as Pixar's first feature film, Toy Story.[3] In 1993, he was the assistant art director on Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.[4]

In 1995, he began working for DreamWorks Animation, and directed two Academy Award-nominated feature films, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) and Shrek 2 (2004). In addition to directing, he provided some of the extra voices in Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third.

He directed and co-wrote the animated film Gnomeo & Juliet (2011), for which he also provided the voices of the tiny Red Goon Gnomes. He was nominated for two Annie Awards for directing and co-writing that film.[5]

In 2003, he wrote a non-fiction book, Dummy Days, a biography of five 20th-century ventriloquists. He wrote and illustrated twelve children's books,[6] including Rusty's Red Vacation, Bonnie's Blue House, and Yolanda's Yellow School.[7]

In mid-2011 to mid-2012, Asbury briefly returned to Disney to contribute storyboards to Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. His final directing credits were Smurfs: The Lost Village for Sony Pictures Animation and UglyDolls for STX Entertainment.

Unrealized projects


Asbury died of abdominal cancer on June 26, 2020, in his home, Encino, Los Angeles, at age 60. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.[15][16] He was featured in the In Memoriam section of the 93rd Academy Awards, and Spirit Untamed was dedicated to his memory.


Year Title Notes
1984 The Littles Storyboards (8 episodes)
1985 The Black Cauldron Inbetween artist
1987 Sport Goofy in Soccermania Short
Layout Artist
1989 The Little Mermaid Visual development artist
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Character designer, storyboard artist, visual development
Roller Coaster Rabbit Short
Art Director
1991 Beauty and the Beast Story, visual development artist
1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas Assistant art director
1995 Toy Story Story artist
1996 Quack Pack Storyboard: Ducky Dearest
James and the Giant Peach Storyboard supervisor with Joe Ranft
Disney's Animated Storybook: Toy Story Video game
Additional story and writing
1998 Histeria! Storyboard artist: The American Revolution
The Prince of Egypt Artistic Supervisor: story with Lorna Cook and Ronnie del Carmen
2000 Chicken Run Additional story artist
2001 Shrek Story artist, special thanks
2002 Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Director with Lorna Cook [directorial debut]
2004 Shrek 2 Director with Andrew Adamson and Conrad Vernon, voices: Page, Elf, and Nobleman, ADR group
2005 100 Greatest Cartoons Documentary
2007 Shrek the Third Voices: Master of Ceremonies and Fiddlesworth, special thanks
2008 Kung Fu Panda Additional story artist
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
2009 I'm No Dummy Documentary
The BackStage Pass TV special
2011 Gnomeo and Juliet Director, screenwriter, story, voices: Red Goon Gnomes
Made in Hollywood Himself (1 episode)
Jeff Dunham: Birth of a Dummy TV special
2012 Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition Himself (1 episode)
Wreck-It Ralph Story artist
2013 Frozen
2014 Lennon or McCartney Documentary short
Achmed Saves America Original character designer
2017 Smurfs: The Lost Village Director, voice: Nosey Smurf
Cake Wars Himself: guest judge
2018 Sherlock Gnomes Based on characters, creative consultant, storyboard artist, voices: Goons
2019 UglyDolls Director, voices: Gibberish Cat, Oliver, and Chef
The Addams Family Story consultant, special thanks
2021 Spirit Untamed Dedicated


  • Rusty's Red Vacation (1997)
  • Bonnie's Blue House (1997)
  • Yolanda's Yellow School (1997)
  • Thanksgiving Parade (2000; illustrations only)
  • Turkey Time (2000; illustrations only)
  • Where is Snowy's Nose (2000)
  • Frankensquare (2001)
  • Witch Dot (2001)
  • Candy Corn (2001)
  • Autumn Walk (2003; illustrations only)
  • Winter Walk (2003; illustrations only)
  • Dummy Days: America's Favorite Ventriloquists from Radio and Early TV (2003)
  • Wild Witches' Ball (2004; illustration only)


  1. ^[bare URL]
  2. ^ "Kelly Asbury". Museum of the Gulf Coast. Archived from the original on October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  3. ^ "Kelly Asbury Biography". Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  4. ^ "The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 8, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  5. ^ E1 strikes UK, Canada deal for Gnomeo And Juliet | News |
  6. ^ Kelly Asbury Interview Archived May 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine UGO Entertainment
  7. ^ "Rusty's Red Vacation". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (October 7, 2011). "'Gnomeo and Juliet' Filmmaker Penning Pooch Cafe for Sony Pictures Animation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Gilligan, Paul (October 9, 2011). "Pooch Cafe Movie News". Pooch Cafe. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 26, 2011). "Elton John's Rocket Pictures And Kelly Asbury Follow 'Gnomeo' With 'Will Gallows And The Snake Bellied Troll'". Deadline. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  11. ^ Patten, Dominic (June 23, 2012). "Sony Animation In Talks With Kelly Asbury For 'Kazorn & The Unicorn'". Deadline. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
  12. ^ "Nikolas Ilic - Kazorn and the Unicorn".
  13. ^ "Fábio Mendes on Twitter". Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  14. ^ "Mauricio de Sousa predicts 3D animation about Horácio for 2017". NSC Total. June 18, 2013. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  15. ^ Amidi, Amid (June 26, 2020). "RIP, Kelly Asbury, Director Of 'Shrek 2' and 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron'". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  16. ^ "Kelly Asbury, Director of 'Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron' and 'Shrek 2,' Dies at 60". Variety. June 26, 2020.