Rob Minkoff
Minkoff in 2011
Robert Ralph Minkoff

(1962-08-11) August 11, 1962 (age 61)
EducationPalo Alto High School
Alma materCalifornia Institute of the Arts
  • Director
  • producer
  • animator
Years active1985–present
Notable workThe Lion King
Stuart Little
The Haunted Mansion
The Forbidden Kingdom
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
(m. 2007)

Robert Ralph Minkoff (born August 11, 1962)[1] is an American director, animator, and producer. He is best known for co-directing The Lion King (along with Roger Allers), and live-action films including Stuart Little (1999), Stuart Little 2 (2002), The Haunted Mansion (2003), and The Forbidden Kingdom (2008). In recent decades, he returned to feature animation with Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) and Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022). His wife, Crystal Kung Minkoff, is a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Early life

Minkoff was born to a Jewish family[2] in Palo Alto, California to Jack Robert Minkoff (1922–1998) and Tola Fay Minkoff (née Stebel).[3] When he was 15, during a babysitting job, he discovered the book The Art of Walt Disney by Christopher Finch on a coffee table. Minkoff recalled, "I cracked it open and it was filled with so much incredible artwork from the golden age of animation." Enamored with the art of animation, he asked his parents for a copy, which he received for his next birthday.[4]

He studied at Palo Alto High School and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in the early 1980s in the Character Animation department. During his studies, Minkoff met Chuck Jones and credited him as an inspiration. He remembered, "I met Chuck during my first year at CalArts and he became a mentor to me ... I had always been a big fan of his and having the opportunity to learn from him has really meant a great deal to me professionally as well as personally."[5]


During the summer of 1982, Minkoff received an internship at Walt Disney Productions, and was apprenticed by Eric Larson, a senior animator who was one of the "Nine Old Men". The following year, he was employed as an in-between artist for The Black Cauldron (1985). He was then a supervising animator for The Great Mouse Detective (1986) for the character Olivia, before working as a character designer for The Brave Little Toaster (1987). He also wrote the song "Good Company" for Oliver & Company (1988), and subsequently served as a character animator for The Little Mermaid (1989). On the film, he provided character designs and early animation tests for the villain Ursula.[5]

In 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit had become a critical and commercial success, which revived a new interest in theatrical cartoon shorts. To produce further Roger Rabbit media, Disney opened the Feature Animation Florida studio in Orlando, located within the Disney-MGM Studios theme park. Minkoff then became a director for Tummy Trouble (1989) accompanied with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989).[6][7] He directed the next cartoon short Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990), which was attached with Dick Tracy (1990).[8] Simultaneously, Minkoff was approached to direct The Rescuers Down Under (1990) but turned down the offer because he wanted to be the sole director. He was also offered to direct Beauty and the Beast (1991), but was turned down because he wanted creative control.[9][10] He later directed a Mickey Mouse short, which was shown at the Disney-MGM Studios, titled Mickey's Audition (1992).[5]

Eager to direct a live-action film, Minkoff was handed the script for a feature-length Roger Rabbit sequel, and was hired to develop the project. However, after a year in development, the project was cancelled.[11] On April 1, 1992, he became the co-director for The Lion King (1994) alongside Roger Allers.[5] On the film, the directorial process began with several sequences divided between Allers and Minkoff. Each director brought their own vision to the sequences, but there was a constant exchange of viewpoints to better ensure a stylistic uniformity.[12] In a 2011 interview, Minkoff stated he had directed the "Circle of Life" sequence while Allers directed the "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" sequence.[13]

In January 1995, it was reported he was to direct an untitled "fantasy feature" film that was meant to be his first live-action project.[14] The project went unproduced, in which Minkoff explained: "I had told Jeffrey [Katzenberg] before he left Disney that I wanted to do a live-action picture, and he was trying to get me to commit to doing an animated picture before that ... We were in the middle of figuring out what was the right step to take when he resigned [in 1994]."[15] Sometime later, he worked briefly with Robert Zemeckis on a film project with Universal Pictures and a version of Mr. Popper's Penguins with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.[16] In 1997, Minkoff re-teamed with Zadan and Meron on a film adaptation of Into the Woods for Columbia Pictures.[17] When development had stalled, Minkoff learned from the studio's production head about Stuart Little. After subsequently reading M. Night Shyamalan's script for the film, he agreed to direct.[16]

In 1998, Sony Pictures had announced Minkoff was directing Stuart Little (1999).[18] Principal photography had spanned 12 weeks before wrapping in mid-November 1998.[19] Released in December 1999, Stuart Little was a commercial success, grossing $300 million worldwide. In November 2000, Minkoff, along with his producing partner Jason Clark, had signed a three-year first-look deal at Columbia Pictures, in which he also agreed to direct the sequel, Stuart Little 2 (2002).[20] Soon after, Minkoff was attached to direct a live-action Jetsons film and a remake of The Sorcerer's Apprentice,[21][22] which both went unproduced. In 2002, Minkoff was hired to direct The Haunted Mansion (2003) starring Eddie Murphy. The film reunited him with producer Don Hahn, who had both worked on The Lion King (1994).[23]

Sometime in the 2000s, Minkoff founded his own production company, Sprocketdyne Entertainment. In June 2003, it was reported that Minkoff's Sprocketdyne Entertainment was developing a live-action/CGI feature film titled Mr. Peabody & Sherman (based on Mister Peabody from the animated series The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends) with Sony Pictures.[24][25] At one point, he took the project to Walden Media, but the studio was occupied with The Chronicles of Narnia film series. Minkoff then toyed with self-financing the film himself, before bringing the film to DreamWorks Animation in 2005. In 2011, DreamWorks Animation announced it was producing the project as a computer-animated film, which reunited Minkoff with Jeffrey Katzenberg.[26] Mr. Peabody & Sherman was finally released in March 2014.[27][28]

In 2010, Minkoff had been attached to direct the fantasy action adventure Chinese Odyssey.[29] Minkoff served as a director on the 2018 animated Netflix original animated series of the late Anna Dewdney picture book franchise Llama Llama, overseeing all aspects of production.[30] In November 2015, Minkoff and his producing partner Pietro Ventani had signed a two-picture deal with Le Vision Pictures to co-develop and produce a CGI-animated adaptation of Wolf Totem based on the Jiang Rong novel and a live-action comedy titled Silkworms.[31]

In 2010, Minkoff was pitched the idea for Blazing Samurai by writer Ed Stone, who had initially envisioned an all-human cast. However, Minkoff suggested an all-animal cast, and in 2014, he was attached as a producer.[32][33] After years in development, Minkoff took the director's chair after Chris Bailey had stepped down. The film was retitled Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, and released in theaters on July 15, 2022.[34]

Personal life

Minkoff met his wife Crystal Kung Minkoff, a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, at a party in his office in 2003, and they attended the Finding Nemo premiere as their first date. Minkoff proposed to her on Valentine's Day 2006, and they married on September 29, 2007.[35] They have a son named Max and a daughter named Zoe.[36][37]

He participates as a member of the jury for the NYICFF, a local New York City film festival dedicated to screening films for children between the ages of 3 and 18.[38]


Short films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1989 Tummy Trouble Yes Story No Animated scenes
1990 Roller Coaster Rabbit Yes No No
1993 Trail Mix-Up No Story Yes

Feature films

Year Title Director Producer Notes
1994 The Lion King Yes No Co-directed with Roger Allers
1999 Stuart Little Yes No
2002 Stuart Little 2 Yes Executive
2003 The Haunted Mansion Yes Executive
2008 The Forbidden Kingdom Yes No
2011 Flypaper Yes No
2014 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Yes No Also voiced Creepy Kid
2022 Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank Yes Yes Co-directed with Mark Koetsier


Year Title Notes
1985 The Black Cauldron
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Supervising animator "Olivia"
1987 Sport Goofy in Soccermania
Amazing Stories Episode "Family Dog"
The Brave Little Toaster Character Designer
1988 Technological Threat
1989 The Little Mermaid

Other roles

Year Title Role
1988 Oliver & Company Music/lyrics: "Good Company"
1991 Beauty and the Beast Pre-production script development


Year Title Director Producer Notes
2003 Stuart Little No Yes
2009 Leverage Yes No Episode "The Mile High Job"
2010 Aftermath Yes Yes Creator
2015–17 The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show No Yes
2018 Rainbow Rangers No Yes Co-creator
2021–24 The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills No No Cameo (seasons 11–13)


  1. ^ "Rob Minkoff". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on June 24, 2021. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  2. ^ Landes, Rachel X. (June 24, 2014). "Meet the 3 Jews Who Made 'The Lion King' Possible". Jewish Daily Forward.
  3. ^ "Deaths: Jack R. Minkoff".
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  9. ^ Greiving, Tim (September 17, 2014). "The Music of The Lion King: A 20th Anniversary Conversation with Rob Minkoff and Mark Mancina". Projector & Orchestra. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014.
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  14. ^ "The Men Behind The 'King'". Variety. January 8, 1995. Archived from the original on April 3, 2022. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
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  17. ^ Fleming, Michael (January 22, 1997). "'Bliss' sticks in ratings mire; Col chops 'Woods'". Variety. Archived from the original on September 1, 2022. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
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  23. ^ Linder, Brian (March 19, 2002). "Murphy Haunting Disney's Mansion". IGN. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
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  25. ^ Linder, Brian (June 12, 2003). "Sony Sets Wayback Machine". IGN. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  26. ^ Lang, Brent (March 6, 2014). "Why It Took Rob Minkoff So Long to Make 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman'". TheWrap. Archived from the original on July 28, 2022. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
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  30. ^ "Llama Llama bible" (PDF). Genius Brands. September 13, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
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  32. ^ Nealy, Devin (June–July 2022). "Exclusive: The Creative Forces Behind 'Paws of Fury' Explain the Way of the Feline Samurai". Animation. No. 321. Archived from the original on July 12, 2022. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  33. ^ Hipes, Patrick (February 5, 2015). "Open Road Acquires Toon 'Blazing Samurai' For 2017 Release". Deadline. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
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  38. ^ "New York International Children's Film Festival". NYC-ARTS.