Brad Bird

Brad Bird
Brad bird cropped 2009.jpg
Bird at the Venice Film Festival, September 2009
Phillip Bradley Bird

(1957-09-24) September 24, 1957 (age 64)
Alma mater California Institute of the Arts (BFA)
  • Animator
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • voice actor
Years active 1979–present
Notable work
The Iron Giant
The Incredibles
Elizabeth Canney
(m. 1988)
Children 3
Awards Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
The Incredibles (2004)
Ratatouille (2007)

Phillip Bradley Bird (born September 24, 1957) is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, producer, and voice actor. He has directed the animated feature films The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, its sequel Incredibles 2, and Ratatouille as well as the live-action films Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland.

Born in Kalispell, Montana, Bird developed a love for the art of animation at an early age and was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of Disney's renowned Nine Old Men. He was part of one of the earliest graduating classes of the California Institute of the Arts with John Lasseter and Tim Burton. Afterwards, Bird began his career as an animator for Disney in the films The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron and wrote the screenplay for Batteries Not Included. He also served as a creative consultant on The Simpsons during its first eight seasons, where he helped develop the show's animation style.

In 1999, Bird directed his debut animated feature film, The Iron Giant. Although it fared poorly at the box office, it came to be regarded as a modern animated classic. He rejoined Lasseter at Pixar in 2000, where he developed the films The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Both films place among Pixar's highest-grossing features and earned Bird two Academy Award for Best Animated Feature wins and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nominations. In 2011, Bird directed his debut live action film, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was a critical and commercial success. His second live action film, Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney, was released in 2015, to mixed reviews and less commercial success. In 2018, Bird returned to animation with Incredibles 2. It went on to become Pixar's highest grossing film and was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards, but lost to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Early life

Bird was born in Kalispell, Montana, the youngest of four children of Marjorie A. (née Cross) and Philip Cullen Bird. His father worked in the propane business, and his grandfather, Francis Wesley "Frank" Bird, who was born in County Sligo, Ireland, was a president and chief executive of the Montana Power Company.[2][3][4] On a tour of the Walt Disney Studios at age 11, he met Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston and announced that someday he would become part of Disney's animation team. Soon afterward he began work on his own 15-minute animated short. Within two years, Bird had completed his animation, which impressed Disney. By age 14, barely in high school, Bird was mentored by the animator Milt Kahl, one of Disney's Nine Old Men. After graduating from Corvallis High School in Corvallis, Oregon in 1975, Bird took a three-year break from animation. He was then awarded a scholarship by Disney to attend California Institute of the Arts, where he met and befriended another future animator, Pixar co-founder and director John Lasseter.[citation needed]


Upon graduating from the California Institute of the Arts, Bird began working for Disney. He worked as an animator on The Small One (1978), The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron (1985) albeit uncredited. While animating at Disney, he became a part of a small group of animators who worked in a suite of offices inside the original animation studio called the "Rat's Nest", which was pejoratively dubbed by animator Don Bluth during production of The Small One.[5][6] There, he would vocally criticize the upper management for not taking risks on animation and playing it safe. During the middle of production of The Fox and the Hound, Bird was fired by animation administrator Ed Hansen.[7][8]

He next worked on animated television series, with much shorter lead times. He was the creator (writer, director, and co-producer) of the Family Dog episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories. In addition, Bird co-wrote the screenplay for the live-action film Batteries Not Included. In 1989, Bird joined Klasky Csupo, where he helped to develop The Simpsons from one-minute shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show into a series of half-hour programs. In 1990, he directed the episode "Krusty Gets Busted" (which marked the first speaking role of Sideshow Bob) and co-directed the Season Three episode "Like Father, Like Clown." He served as an executive consultant for the show for its first eight seasons. Also while at Klasky Csupo, he was one of the animators of the Rugrats pilot "Tommy Pickles and the Great White Thing." He worked on several other animated television series, including The Critic and King of the Hill, before pitching Warner Brothers to write and direct the animated film The Iron Giant. Despite receiving near-universal acclaim from critics, it failed at the box office due to lack of marketing and promotion from Warner Bros. He was then hired by Steve Jobs who wanted him to work for Pixar.[9] Bird pitched the idea for The Incredibles to Pixar. In the finished picture, Bird also provides the voice of costume designer Edna Mode. As an inside joke, the character Syndrome was based on Bird's likeness (as was Mr. Incredible) and according to him, he did not realize the joke until the movie was too far into production to have it changed.[10] The film, written and directed by Bird, was released in 2004 to major critical and financial success. As a result, Bird won his first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and his screenplay was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.[11]

Brad Bird with his second Academy Award for Best Animated Feature

In the middle of 2005, Bird was asked by the Pixar management team to write and direct Ratatouille, which Jan Pinkava had been in charge of at the time. This change was announced in March 2006 during a Disney shareholders meeting. The film was released in 2007, and was another critical and box office success for Bird. Ratatouille won the Best Animated Feature award at the 2008 Golden Globes; it was also nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay. On February 24, 2008, Ratatouille won Bird his second Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.[11]

Bird has spoken passionately about animation as an art form. When Bird and producer John Walker recorded the Director's Commentary for The Incredibles' DVD, he jokingly offered to punch the next person that he heard call animation a genre instead of an art form. Bird believes animation can be used to tell any kind of story – drama or comedy, for an adult audience or children. In July 2018, Bird doubled down on his views that just because a movie is animated does not mean it is just for kids when he called out concerned parents over Twitter for referring to Incredibles 2 as a "kids movie", saying, "With all due respect, it is NOT a 'kids movie.' It is animated, and rated PG."[12][13] Later in November 2018, Bird called out iTunes for classifying both Incredibles movies as "kids movies" saying, "Our classification should be no different than adventure films from Marvel or Lucasfilm just because we're animated. What would you call sexism or racism for an art form? Medium-ism?"[14][15]

Before he was sidetracked by Ratatouille, Bird began work on a film adaptation of James Dalessandro's novel 1906, which would be his first live-action project.[16] In March 2008, Bird resumed work on the film, which is a co-production between Pixar and Warner Bros. The novel, narrated by reporter Annalisa Passarelli, examines police officers battling corruption in the government that causes the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to turn into such a disaster. The script was co-written by John Logan.[17] Blogger Jim Hill suggested the film has been on hold due to Disney / Pixar and Warner Bros.' nervousness over the projected $200 million budget.[18] In May 2010, with 1906 apparently still stalled, Bird signed on as the director of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, produced by Tom Cruise and J. J. Abrams.[19] The collaboration was suggested by Tom Cruise following the release of The Incredibles, and was created with the help of J.J. Abrams, who sent Bird a late night text message saying "Mission?".[20] The film was an international hit, grossing almost $700 million.

Bird directed and co-wrote Disney's science fiction film Tomorrowland (2015),[21] whose screenplay was co-written with Damon Lindelof.[22] Bird returned to Pixar to write and direct Incredibles 2 (2018). Released 14 years after The Incredibles (2004), the sequel received critical acclaim and was a box office success.[23]

On January 6, 2019, Bird, during a red carpet interview for the BAFTA Tea Party, announced he was working with frequent collaborator Michael Giacchino on an original musical film that will contain about 20 minutes of animation in it.[24]

Personal life

Bird and his wife Elizabeth have three sons. One of his sons, Nicholas, was the voice of Squirt in Finding Nemo.[25][26] Another son, Michael, voiced Tony Rydinger in The Incredibles and its sequel.[27]

In 1998, during production of The Iron Giant, Bird's older sister, Susan, was shot and killed by her estranged husband in a murder-suicide. While coping with the death, Bird decided to adjust the story of the film to include a message of anti-gun violence, and dedicated the film to her.[28]

Contrary to popular beliefs,[29] Bird denies his films being influenced by Ayn Rand's Objectivism though he claims he had been drawn to Rand's work in his younger years but states that, "Me being the Ayn Rand guy is a lazy piece of criticism."[30] He has praised Disney's use of hand-drawn animation and the work of Hayao Miyazaki.[31]


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Animator Other Voice Role Notes
1980 Animalympics No No No Yes No
1981 The Fox and the Hound No No No Uncredited No [32]
1982 The Plague Dogs No No No Yes No
1985 The Black Cauldron No No No Uncredited No
1987 Batteries Not Included No Yes No No No
1999 The Iron Giant Yes Yes[a] No Uncredited Yes Song Performer: "Duck and Cover" Animator on Hogarth drinking espresso[35]
2004 The Incredibles Yes Yes No No Yes Edna Mode (E)
2007 Ratatouille Yes Yes No No Yes Ambrister Minion, Ego's butler
2011 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Yes No No No No
2015 Tomorrowland Yes Yes Yes No Yes Logos Designer
Jurassic World No No No No Yes Monorail Announcer Thanks
2018 Incredibles 2 Yes Yes No No Yes Edna Mode (E)/ Additional Voices Song Lyrics: "Frozone", Senior Creative Team

Senior creative team only

Year Title Role
2001 Monsters, Inc. Brain Trust – uncredited[36][37]
2003 Finding Nemo
2006 Cars
2008 WALL-E Senior Creative Team
2009 Up
2010 Toy Story 3
2011 Cars 2
2012 Brave
2013 Monsters University
2015 Inside Out
The Good Dinosaur
2016 Finding Dory
2017 Cars 3
2019 Toy Story 4

Short films

Year Title Director Writer Story
Other Voice Role Notes
1979 Doctor of Doom No No No No Yes Don Carlo/ Bystander
1990 Do the Bartman Yes No Yes No No Music Video
2005 Jack-Jack Attack Yes Yes No No No
Mr. Incredible and Pals Dialogue Dialogue No Yes No Commentary Edition
One Man Band No No No Yes No
2007 Your Friend the Rat No No No Yes No
2018 Auntie Edna No No No Yes Yes Edna Mode (E)

Documentary featurettes

Year Title Executive
2005 The Making of The Incredibles Yes Himself
More Making of The Incredibles Yes
Vowellett - An Essay by Sarah Vowell Yes


Year Title Notes
1983 Garfield on the Town Animator
1985–1987 Amazing Stories Writer of episode: "The Main Attraction"
Director, writer and animation producer of episode: "Family Dog"
1989–1998 The Simpsons Executive consultant and directed episodes: "Krusty Gets Busted" and "Like Father, Like Clown"
1989 Rugrats Animator
Episode: "Tommy Pickles and The Great White Thing"
1993 Family Dog Creator
1994–1995 The Critic Executive consultant
1997 King of the Hill Creative consultant and visual consultant

Video games

Other credits

Year Title Role
1988 Technological Threat Special Thanks
2004 The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Thanks
2006 Friz on Film Special Thanks
2007 Fog City Mavericks Himself; Special Thanks
Madison's Résumé Special Thanks
The Pixar Story Himself; Very Special Thanks
2009 Calendar Confloption[38] Special Thanks
Partly Cloudy
2010 Day & Night
2013 Toy Story of Terror! Extra Special Thanks
2018 Bao Special Thanks
2019 Frozen II
2020 Loop Story Trust
Canvas Special Thanks
2021 Pixar Popcorn: Chore Day The Incredibles Way
Pixar Popcorn: Cookie Num Num

Unmade projects

Critical reception

Critical response to films Bird has directed:


In addition to his Academy Award, BAFTA Award and Saturn Award wins, Bird holds the record of the most animation Annie Award wins with eight, winning both Best Directing and Best Writing for each of The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, as well as Best Voice Acting for The Incredibles. His eighth Annie was the 2011 Winsor McCay Award for lifetime contribution to animation.

Year Award Category Film Result[63]
1999 Annie Award Best Animated Feature The Iron Giant Won
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Shared with Tim McCanlies Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Animation Won
2000 BAFTA Children's Award Best Feature Film Shared with Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff and Tim McCanlies Won
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation Shared with Tim McCanlies and Ted Hughes (Based upon the book) Nominated
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Award Best Script Nominated
2004 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Animation The Incredibles Won
2005 Academy Award Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Animated Feature Won
Annie Award Best Animated Feature Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Won
Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation Won
London Critics Circle Film Awards Screenwriter of the Year Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay, Original Nominated
Saturn Award Best Writing Won
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Award Best Script Nominated
2006 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation Jack-Jack Attack Nominated
2007 Boston Society of Film Critics Award Best Screenplay Ratatouille Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay, Original Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Animation Shared with Jan Pinkava Won
2008 Academy Award Best Original Screenplay Shared with Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco Nominated
Best Animated Feature Won
Annie Award Best Animated Feature Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Won
BAFTA Film Award Best Animated Film Won
Golden Globe Award Best Animated Feature Film Won
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay, Original Nominated
Saturn Award Best Writing Won
2012 Best Director Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Nominated
2019 Academy Award Best Animated Feature Incredibles 2 Nominated

See also


  1. ^ On the original theatrical prints and home video releases, Bird was credited with writing the film's story, while Tim McCaniles received sole screenplay credit. Bird is credited as co-screenwriter in the film's 2015 restoration and the Signature Edition.[33][34]


  1. ^ "Director Brad Bird (R) and spouse Elizabeth Canney pose for a photo at the premiere of Disney's Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California on May 9, 2015". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  2. ^ Berens, Jessica (September 29, 2007). "Ratatouille: Year of the rat". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  3. ^ "Brad Bird ancestry". Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Gaiser, Heidi (November 12, 2004). "Kalispell Native is the Superhero Behind "The Incredibles"". Daily Inter Lake. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Canemaker, John (August 8, 1999). "FILM; A Disney Dissenter Shuns Song and Dance". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  6. ^ Korkis, Jim (February 7, 2014). "Animation Anecdotes #148". Cartoon Research. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Petrakis, John (September 3, 1999). "'Iron Giant' Director Bird Got Animated Start With Disney". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  8. ^ Huddleston, Jr., Tom (June 15, 2018). "How 'Incredibles 2' director Brad Bird got his start at Disney". CNBC.
  9. ^ Gigaom | Pixar's Brad Bird on Fostering Innovation
  10. ^ Brad Bird (January 19, 2008). "Not My Job: NPR". Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Brad Bird". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Chapman, Tom (July 4, 2018). "Brad Bird Insists Incredibles 2 Is NOT a 'Kids Movie'". Comic Book Resources.
  13. ^ Amidi, Amid (July 3, 2018). "Brad Bird: 'Incredibles 2' Is NOT A Kids Movie". Cartoon Brew.
  14. ^ Nolan, L.D. (November 17, 2018). "Incredibles 2: Brad Bird Disagrees With iTunes Classification". Comic Book Resources.
  15. ^ El-Mahmoud, Sarah (November 17, 2018). "Brad Bird Says Incredibles 2 Is Not A 'Kids Movie' And Should Be Reclassified". CinemaBlend.
  16. ^ Utichi, Joe (October 26, 2007). "Brad Bird Takes RT Through Ratatouille". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  17. ^ Sciretta, Peter (March 13, 2008). "Pixar teams with Warner Bros for Brad Bird's 1906". /Film. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  18. ^ Hill, Jim (February 10, 2009). ""Incredibles" sequel is stalled until Bird can get "1906" off the ground". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
  19. ^ Kit, Borys (March 24, 2010). "'Incredibles' helmer on 'Mission: Impossible IV' list (exclusive)". Heat Vision. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  20. ^ Barnes, Brooks (December 9, 2011). "His Mission: Telling Stories to Grown-Ups". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Brad Bird's 1952 is Now Tomorrowland". January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  22. ^ Chitwood, Adam (May 3, 2012). "Brad Bird to Direct Disney's Large-Scale Mystery Film 1952, Written by Damon Lindelof". Collider. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  23. ^ "Incredibles 2".
  24. ^ Amidi, Amid (January 6, 2019). "Brad Bird Reveals His Next Project, And It's Not What You'd Expect". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  25. ^ "Nicholas Bird". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  26. ^ "See The Voices Behind Your Favorite 'Finding Nemo' Characters". May 31, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  27. ^ Meszoros, Mark (June 15, 2018). "'Incredibles 2' a dazzling sequel". Journal Advocate. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  28. ^ "This is the real-life family tragedy that inspired 'The Iron Giant'". June 15, 2018.
  29. ^ Todd VanDerWerff, Emily (June 27, 2018). "Why Incredibles director Brad Bird gets compared to Ayn Rand — and why he shouldn't be". Vox. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  30. ^ Lamble, Ryan (July 9, 2018). "Brad Bird responds to critics of Incredibles and Tomorrowland". Dennis Publishing. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  31. ^ Jacques, Adam (May 22, 2015). "Brad Bird interview: The director on his love for hand-drawn dogs, misunderstanding the B52s, and turning down Star Wars". The Independent. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  32. ^ Petrakis, John (September 3, 1999). "'IRON GIANT' DIRECTOR BIRD GOT ANIMATED START WITH DISNEY". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  33. ^ "The Iron Giant". AFI. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  34. ^ "'The Iron Giant: Signature Edition' Debuts September 6 on Blu-Ray". Animation World Network. March 29, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Iron Giant commentary". Warner Home Video.
  36. ^ Sarto, Dan (June 11, 2018). "Brad Bird Makes a Heroic Return to Animation with the Incredible 'Incredibles 2'". Animation World Network. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  37. ^ Barbagallo, Ron (September 25, 2018). "BRAD BIRD's Amazing Story, from leaving Disney onto fixing The Iron Giant, and the Road Less Traveled". Animation Art Conservation. Animation Art Conservation. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  38. ^ Lauer, Andy (March 11, 2009). ""Answer Man," "Food Inc." Among 2009 Sonoma International Film Festival Selections". IndieWire. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  39. ^ Paul Leiva, Steven. "'The Spirit' movie that could have been", Los Angeles Times – Hero Complex, Dec. 12, 2008
  40. ^ Fiamma, Andrea (April 15, 2015). "Il trailer del film di Spirit mai realizzato da Brad Bird" (in Italian). Fumettologica. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  41. ^ "The Making of The Iron Giant". Warner Bros. Archived from the original on March 21, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  42. ^ Linder, Brian (July 31, 2001). "Grazer Curious About CG George". IGN. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  43. ^ Olly Richards (May 24, 2007). "Homer's Odyssey". Empire. pp. 72–78.
  44. ^ Christopher Orr (June 22, 2012). "'Brave': A Disappointment Worth Seeing". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  45. ^ Gardner, Eric (February 15, 2012). "Warner Bros. Wins 'Last Samurai' Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  46. ^ Fischer, Russ (January 27, 2010). "What Happened to Brad Bird's 1906?". Slashfilm. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  47. ^ Bastoli, Mike. "'1906' to be Disney/Pixar/Warner Bros. collaboration". March 13, 2008. Big Screen Animation. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  48. ^ Adam Chitwood (June 18, 2018). "Brad Bird Says '1906' May Get Made as an "Amalgam" of a TV and Film Project". Collider. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  49. ^ Bernardin, Marc (May 16, 2013). "Brad Bird on 'Incredibles' Sequel: 'I Would Probably Wanna Do That' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  50. ^ "{TB EXCLUSIVE} "Sonic The Hedgehog" Gets The "Dark Knight" Treatment And A Writer Shortlist". The Tracking Board. March 21, 2014. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  51. ^ "T-Meter Rating of 'The Iron Giant'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  52. ^ "The Iron Giant Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  53. ^ "T-Meter Rating of 'The Incredibles'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  54. ^ "The Incredibles Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  55. ^ "T-Meter Rating of 'Ratatouille'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  56. ^ "Ratatouille Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  57. ^ "T-Meter Rating of 'Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  58. ^ "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  59. ^ "Tomorrowland (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  60. ^ "Tomorrowland Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  61. ^ "Incredibles 2 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  62. ^ "Incredibles 2 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  63. ^ "Brad Bird (I) Awards". IMDb. Retrieved January 14, 2013.

External links