With two Oscars under his belt, Pixar’s Lee Unkrich is one of the most prolific directors in animation today. The “Toy Story 3” and “Coco” director makes an appearance in Little White Lies’ March/April 2018 issue to talk about the future of animation, and one point Unkrich stresses is the desire to have more live-action filmmakers cross over to animation storytelling. Unkrich notes how effortless Wes Anderson can pivot from live-action to animation without losing his signature style, and he’d love to see other directors make a similar transition.
“I’ve actually liked seeing some traditional live-action filmmakers make steps into animation, like Wes Anderson,” Unkrich said. “I don’t think the two worlds need to be so segregated. I think the work that we’re doing in animation is very much on par with what’s being done in live-action, and the way we make the films is similar, so it kind of makes sense for there to be cross-contamination between animation and live-action these days.”
Unkrich is also looking forward to the return of Hayao Miyazaki. The Studio Ghibli co-founder is currently at work on a new feature film, which marks his return to directing after announcing his retirement after “The Wind Rises” in 2013. “I’m glad to hear Hayao Miyazaki is making another film,” the director said. “He’s amazing. He’s been so inspirational to so many of us.”
Directors like Anderson who have successfully transitioned between live-action and animation filmmaking include Charlie Kaufman (“Anomalisa”) and Tim Burton (“Corpse Bride”). Filmmakers like Brad Bird went the other direction, starting in animation before going live-action with films such as “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Tomorrowland.”
Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” is now playing in theaters. Unkrich currently has not announced directing plans post-“Coco,” although he has worked on the story for Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4.”