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This booklet is about the famous voice actor, screenwriter, film directer, and producer Pete Docter

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Pete Docter

All About

Peter Hans Docter also known as Pete Docter is an American film director, animator, screenwriter, producer and voice actor from Bloomington, Minnesota. His mother, Rita was a music educator and has a father, Dave, a retired choral director at Normandale Community College. Pete first gravitated toward animation at the age of eight by creating his own animated flip-books. That experience gave the blossoming artist a deep-seated love of illustration. On family vacations, the family would visit Disneyland and Pete instantly gravitated toward the  Enchanted Tiki Room. He re-created the shrine to Hawaiian kitsch in his bedroom with figures made from carved foam rubber, feathers, coconuts, bamboo, palm fronds, doorbell electromagnets and whatever scrap materials he could scrounge from the garage.

That Docter, this clownish scribbler, this renderer of talking toys and conscientious robots and houses that float away on helium balloons, might become a generation’s Dante, creating for the masses a “family entertainment” that goes straight to the heart of human despair, may seem at first like a ludicrous claim. But with Inside Out, he has done just that. Shakespeare’s fools were his prophets, and in the 21st century comedians are our sages. Hints of Docter’s darker side were evident in Up, for which he won an Academy Award in 2010: What cartoonist makes a lovable heroine infertile and then kills her in a film’s first 15 minutes? In Inside Out, Docter goes even deeper, taking on the subject of human consciousness itself and, like a child diving for a ring in the ocean, emerges from its murky depths with a Technicolor poem on childhood’s end and the importance of being sad.

Pete Docter, the third animator hired by Pixar, looks, improbably, a whole lot like the cartoon characters he helps to create. His body seems stretchable, bendable, as long of limb and narrow of face as the cowboy Woody in Toy Story; his eyebrows seem as motile as those of Russell, the 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer in Up. Docter is 46, but his affect is that of an overgrown boy, a goofball who buys a cotton-candy machine for himself because — heck, just because

Docter, who started work at Pixar 25 years ago, the day after he graduated from college, says that, of all the emotions, he relates to Joy the most. Joy was the hardest character to write, he says, because she had to embody such a broad spectrum of happy feelings, from exuberance to relief, and because to remain sympathetic she had to walk a thin line between saccharine and overbearing. “When we were struggling to find Joy, one of our writers said, ‘Joy is you, Pete.’ ”

For the first time in his life, Docter felt like he genuinely fit in among his fellow Pixar animators. As he told the Star Tribune, "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!'" Almost immediately after arriving at the fledgling animation studio, Docter, along with fellow Pixar animators John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Joe Ranft, hatched the storyline for what would eventually become the company’s very first full-length feature, Toy Story.


Docter and fellow Pixar filmmaker Bob Peterson came up with an idea revolving around an elderly man who attaches hundreds of helium balloons to his house and subsequently flies to South America. Their idea eventually became the Oscar-winning comedy/drama Up, which was not only another massive hit for Pixar but also a critics’ darling that topped many year-end Top 10 lists. Docter himself said it best when, while accepting the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, he remarked, "Boy, never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third grade math book would lead to this.”