Pete Docter
Docter in 2009
Peter Hans Docter

(1968-10-09) October 9, 1968 (age 55)
Alma materCalifornia Institute of the Arts (BFA)
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • animator
  • voice actor
Years active1985–present
EmployerPixar Animation Studios (1990–present)
SpouseAmanda Docter
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Animated Feature
Up (2009)
Inside Out (2015)
Soul (2020)

Peter Hans Docter[1] (born October 9, 1968) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and animator. He has served as the chief creative officer (CCO) of Pixar Animation Studios since 2018,[2][3] and is best known for directing the animated feature films Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009), Inside Out (2015), and Soul (2020). He has been nominated for nine Oscars and has won three for Best Animated Feature—for Up, Inside Out and Soul—making him the first person in history to win the category three times. He has also been nominated for nine Annie Awards (winning six), a BAFTA Children's Film Award and a Hochi Film Award.[4] He has described himself as a "geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons".[3]

Early life

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 was the violist and a founding member 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 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.[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 film 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 John Lasseter asked his former classmate the late Joe Ranft, who was one of Docter's teachers at CalArts, to recommend any students who would be a good fit for the company.[16][7][17][18] Deciding to follow his instincts and what "felt right" at the time, he accepted the job offer from then obscure Pixar and began work there the day after his college graduation[16][12] as the tenth employee at the company's animation group[10] and its third animator.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

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] He is also one of the five founding members of the Pixar Braintrust, which came together during the making of Toy Story (the other four being Lasseter, Stanton, Ranft and Unkrich).[22]

Docter made his directorial debut with Monsters, Inc.—the first Pixar film 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.[23] In 2004, he was asked by John Lasseter to direct the English translation of Howl's Moving Castle.[24] 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.[25][26] Docter directed the 2015 film Inside Out to critical acclaim.[27] His next film, Soul, was released on Disney+ on December 25, 2020, to critical acclaim.[28][29]

Docter appeared at Comic-Con 2008 and the 2009 WonderCon.[30]

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 three), 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 first 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."[31] Docter served as Vice-President of Creativity at Pixar Animation Studios through June 2018, and following John Lasseter stepping down from the role, became the studio's chief creative officer.[2][32] TheWrap reported that Docter planned to complete the film he was currently working on, which ultimately became Soul.[33]

Docter is expected to receive the Winsor McCay Award at the 2023 Annie Awards ceremony along with fellow animators Craig McCracken and Evelyn Lambart, for his "unparalleled achievement and exceptional contributions to animation".[34]

Personal life

Docter is married to Amanda Docter and has two children, Nicholas and Elie.[7] Elie has a speaking part in Up and was the inspiration for the character of Riley in Inside Out.[35]

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".[24] He is also a fan of the filmography of Pixar competitor DreamWorks. Referring to the competitive environment, he has said: "I think it's a much healthier environment when there is more diversity".[12]

During an interview in 2009, Docter confirmed that he is a Christian and said that it influences his work. However, he went on to say that he did not envision himself ever creating a Christian film.[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
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 Storyboarding
1999 Toy Story 2 No Original Story No No
2001 Monsters, Inc. Yes Original Story No Yes CDA Agent 00002 Animator - uncredited [36]
2003 Finding Nemo No No No No Brain Trust - uncredited
2004 The Incredibles No No No Yes Additional Voices
2005 Howl's Moving Castle[24] No No No Yes Director: English Dub, U.S. Version
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 Pixar Senior Creative Team
2009 Up Yes Yes No Yes Campmaster Strauch / Kevin Animator - uncredited [37]
2010 Toy Story 3 No No No Yes Pixar 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 Pixar Senior Creative Team[2]
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 No No Yes Yes
2022 Turning Red No No Yes Yes
Lightyear No No Yes Yes
2023 Elemental No No Yes Yes
2024 Inside Out 2 No No Yes Yes
2025 Elio No No Yes Yes

Shorts and series

Year Title Director Writer Executive
Animator Other Role Notes
1985 Behind the Scenes at Camelot No No No No Yes Himself [38]
1988 Winter[13] Yes Yes Producer Yes No Written by
1989 Palm Springs Yes No No Yes Yes Sigmond Dinosaur [13]
Cranium Command No No No Yes No
1990 Next Door[13] Yes No No Yes Yes Old Man Composer
1997 Geri's Game No No No Yes No
2002 Mike's New Car Yes Original Story No No No
2005 Mr. Incredible and Pals No No No No Yes Mr. Incredible
2009 Dug's Special Mission No No Yes No No
George and A.J. No No Yes No No
Let's Pollute No No No No Yes Musician: Bass
2013 Party Central No No Yes No No
2015 Riley's First Date? No No Yes No Yes Dad's Anger
2017 Lou No No Yes No No
2018 Bao No No Yes No No
2023 Carl's Date No No Yes No No
Disney+ Original Short Films, Series, and Specials
2019–20 Forky Asks a Question No No Yes No No
2020 Loop No No No No Yes Story Trust
Lamp Life No No Yes No No [39]
Dory's Reef Cam No No Yes No No [40]
2021 Pixar Popcorn No No Yes No No [41]
22 vs. Earth No No Yes No No [42]
Dug Days No No Yes No No [43]
2024 Win or Lose No No Yes No No [44][45]

Other credits

Year Title Role
2003 Boundin' Special Thanks
2007 Fog City Mavericks
The Pixar Story Himself; Very Special Thanks
2008 Presto Special Thanks
2009 Partly Cloudy
2010 Day & Night
2011 La Luna
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
2017 Baby Driver[46] Special Thanks - uncredited
2019 Purl Special Thanks
Frozen II
2020 Out
One Night in Miami...
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
2020–2021 Inside Pixar[47]
2021 Monsters at Work
Twenty Something
A Spark Story Himself; Special Thanks
Ciao Alberto Special Thanks
Pixar 2021 Disney+ Day Special Himself[48]
2022 Embrace the Panda: Making 'Turning Red' Special Thanks[49]
Beyond Infinity: Buzz and the Journey to 'Lightyear' Himself; Special Thanks[50]
Cars on the Road Special Thanks; Pixar Senior Creative Team


Critical, public and commercial reception to films Docter has directed as of January 9, 2021.

Film Rotten Tomatoes[51] Metacritic[52] CinemaScore[53] Budget Box office[54]
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 95% (309 reviews) 83 (55 reviews) N/A $150 million $120.9 million

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1995 Toy Story Best Original Screenplay Nominated [55]
2001 Monsters, Inc. Best Animated Feature Nominated [56]
2002 Mike's New Car Best Animated Short Film Nominated [57]
2008 WALL-E Best Original Screenplay Nominated [58]
2009 Up Best Animated Feature Won [59]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2015 Inside Out Best Animated Feature Won [60]
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2020 Soul Best Animated Feature Won [61]

Annie Awards

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
2021 Soul Directing in a Feature Production Nominated
Writing in a Feature Production Won

Other awards

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 [62]
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 [63]
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 [64]
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
2020 Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Feature Film Soul Won
2021 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Nominated [65]

Collaborators (actors)

Pete Docter has cast certain actors and crew members in more than one of the films he has directed

Monsters, Inc. Up Inside Out Soul
Mary Gibbs
Bob Peterson
John Ratzenberger
Frank Oz
Jeff Pidgeon
Danny Mann
Mickie McGowan
Josh Cooley
John Cygan
Ronnie del Carmen

See also


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  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. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022.
  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.
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  15. ^ a b c Pixar Movies Are Lousy ... at First. The Wrap
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  19. ^ Going 'Up' with Minnesotan Pete Docter. By Euan Kerr. Minnesota Public Radio. Published May 29, 2009.
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