Brad Bird

Active - 1987 - 2018  |   Born - Sep 24, 1957 in Kalispell, Montana, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A filmmaker who possess the rare ability to truly instill his animated creations with lifelike sentiments, identifiable emotions, and most of all heart, director Brad Bird has found notable success in film with such efforts as The Iron Giant and The Incredibles. Rising through the ranks with an impressive resumé, which includes such popular animated efforts as television's The Simpsons and the groundbreaking Amazing Stories episode "Family Dog," it seemed only a matter of time before the gifted storyteller ventured into feature territory. By the time Bird stepped behind the camera for 1999's endearing boy-meets-giant-robot fable The Iron Giant, it was obvious to all who saw the film what a unique talent the director really possessed. Began at age eleven and completed when the fledgling Bird was a tender fourteen, his first animated film eventually caught the attention of Walt Disney Studios -- and it wasn't long before the ambitious youngster was being mentored under the tutelage of legendary Mouse House animator Milt Kahl. Following a stint as a Disney animator on such features as The Fox and the Hound and The Plague Dogs, Bird branched out to numerous other studios -- his trademark style and humor always well in place. Later serving as an executive consultant to both King of the Hill and The Simpsons, Bird was soon ready to tackle his first feature. Released to near universal critical acclaim in the summer of 1999, The Iron Giant told the tale of a warm friendship between a boy and a giant robot set against the prejudice of small-town America. A film with a big star and an even bigger heart, The Iron Giant pointed to great things to come from Bird. Courted by Pixar following his initial feature success, Bird was soon hard at work on his theatrical follow-up, The Incredibles. An affectionate tale of an aging group of ex-superheroes struggling to balance suburban family life with the instinctual need to fight crime, The Incredibles opened to equally ecstatic reviews in the fall of 2004. Though critical praise and box-office success don't necessarily go hand in hand, the synergy between the two was flawless in this particular case and The Incredibles proved a massive success in theaters across the country. When it came time to hand out the award for Best Animated Feature at The 77th Annual Academy Awards the enthusiasm had apparently rubbed off on the Motion Picture Academy -- with the film being awarded both the top animation prize as well as a "Best Sound Editing" award at that year's ceremony.

By this point, audiences and critics - roundly dazzled by the Incredibles phenomenon -- sat on pins and needles waiting for Bird's next work of genius, naturally another Disney-Pixar joint production. It arrived, none too soon, in 2007. Ratatouille tells of a Gallic rat named Remy (voiced by comedian Patton Oswalt) in a decidedly precarious situation. As one of the lowest species of animal life, he happens to have an inconvenient preference for haute cuisine -- particularly inconvenient given his location beneath the kitchen of a fancy French gourmet restaurant, that tempts him to go upstairs and try out his skills. Peter O'Toole, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm and John Ratzenberger also provide vocal talent in the picture. The film was yet another box office hit, and garnered considerably strong reviews. The Acdemy rewarded Bird with his second nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

In 2011 Bird broke new ground by directing his first live-action film, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, the fourth film in the mega-successful Tom Cruise franchise. The film was a box-office blockbuster, and earned some of the strongest reviews of any movie in the series.

Movie Highlights

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  • Created his first animated motion picture at age 11.
  • Apprenticed at Disney Studios, mentored by Milt Kahl, after high school. Disney awarded him a scholarship to attend California Institute of the Arts, where he met John Lassiter, who later co-founded Pixar.
  • Has served as executive consultant on such animated TV series as The Simpsons, King of the Hill and The Critic.
  • Best known for writing and directing the critically acclaimed, kid-friendly animated movies Iron Giant (1999) and The Incredibles (2004).
  • At Pixar's request, took over directorial duties from Jan Pinkava for Ratatouille (2007).
  • After getting a late-night text message from producer J.J. Abrams which simply read "Mission?", signed on to direct Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011).