Brad Bird

Phillip Bradley Bird (born September 24, 1957) is an American animator, director, screenwriter, producer, and voice actor best known for his animated feature films The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), and Incredibles 2 (2018). His live action films are Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015).

Brad Bird
Bird at the Venice Film Festival, September 2009
Phillip Bradley Bird

(1957-09-24) September 24, 1957
Alma materCalifornia Institute of the Arts (BFA)
  • Animator
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • voice actor
Years active1979–present
Elizabeth Canney (m. 1988)

Bird developed a love for the art of animation at an early age and was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of Disney's reputed Nine Old Men. He was part of one of the earliest graduating classes of the California Institute of the Arts alongside John Lasseter and Tim Burton. Afterward, Bird worked as an animator for Disney in The Fox and the Hound (1981) and The Black Cauldron (1985) and wrote the screenplay for Batteries Not Included (1987).

Bird served as a creative consultant on The Simpsons during its first eight seasons, where he helped develop the show's animation style.

Bird directed his first animated feature film, The Iron Giant, in 1999. Although it fared poorly at the box office, it came to be regarded as a modern animated classic. He rejoined John Lasseter at Pixar in 2000, where he developed his second animated film, The Incredibles (2004). He directed his third film, Ratatouille, in 2007. Both films place among Pixar's highest-grossing features and gave Bird two Academy Award for Best Animated Feature wins and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nominations. In 2011, Bird directed his first 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 May 2015, to some acclaim but less commercial success. In 2018, Incredibles 2 was released, which Bird wrote and directed. Like its predecessor, the film was a critical and box office success.

Early life

Bird was born in Kalispell, Montana, the youngest of four children[2] 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.[3][4][5] On a tour of the Walt Disney Studios at age 11, he met Frank Thomas & 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.[2]


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.[6][7] 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.[8][9]

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.[10] Bird pitched the idea for The Incredibles to Pixar. In the finished picture, Bird also provides the voice of costume designer Edna Mode.[2] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[12]

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.”[13][14] 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?”[15][16]

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.[17] 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.[18] Blogger Jim Hill suggested the film has been on hold due to Disney / Pixar and Warner Bros.' nervousness over the projected $200 million budget.[19] 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.[20] 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?".[21] The film was an international hit, grossing almost $700 million.

Bird directed and co-wrote Disney's science fiction film Tomorrowland (2015),[22] whose screenplay was co-written with Damon Lindelof.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25]

Personal life

Bird and his wife Elizabeth have three sons. One of his sons, Nicholas, was the voice of Squirt in Finding Nemo.[26][27] Another son, Michael, voiced Tony Rydinger in The Incredibles and its sequel.[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 Notes
1987 Batteries Not Included No Yes No
1999 The Iron Giant Yes Yes No Feature directorial debut
2004 The Incredibles Yes Yes No Also voiced Edna Mode
2007 Ratatouille Yes Yes No
2011 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Yes No No
2015 Tomorrowland Yes Yes Yes Also designer of logos
2018 Incredibles 2 Yes Yes No Also voice of Edna Mode


1981The Fox and the HoundUncredited
1982The Plague Dogs
1985The Black CauldronUncredited
1999The Iron GiantAnimator on Hogarth when he's hyper on espresso[32]

Voice actor

1999The Iron GiantSinger: Duck and Cover sequence
2004The IncrediblesEdna Mode
2007RatatouilleAmbrister Minion
2015Jurassic WorldMonorail announcer
2018Incredibles 2Edna Mode and additional voices

Short films

Year Title Director Writer Executive
Other Notes
1979 Doctor of Doom No No No Yes Voice role: Don Carlo, Bystander
1983 Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore No No No Yes Uncredited animator
Mickey's Christmas Carol No No No Yes
2005 Jack-Jack Attack Yes Yes No No
Mr. Incredible and Pals: Commentary Edition Yes Yes Yes No
Vowellett - An Essay by Sarah Vowell No No Yes No
2006 One Man Band No No Yes No
2007 Your Friend the Rat No No Yes No
2018 Auntie Edna No No Yes Yes Voice role: Edna Mode

Senior creative team (Pixar)

Kroyer Films

Unmade projects


1983Garfield on the TownAnimator
1985–1987Amazing StoriesWriter of episode: "The Main Attraction"
Director, writer and animation producer of episode: "Family Dog"
1989–1998The SimpsonsExecutive consultant and directed episodes: "Krusty Gets Busted" and "Like Father, Like Clown"
Episode: "Tommy Pickles and The Great White Thing"
1993Family DogCreator
1994–1995The CriticExecutive consultant
1997King of the HillCreative consultant and visual consultant

Music video

1990Do the BartmanDirector and storyboard artist

Video games

YearTitleVoice role
2004The IncrediblesEdna Mode
The Incredibles: When Danger Calls
2018Lego The Incredibles

Critical reception

Critical response to films Bird has directed:

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Cinemascore
The Iron Giant96%[44]85[45]A
The Incredibles97%[46]90[47]A+
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol93%[50]73[51]A-
Incredibles 294%[54]80[55]A+
Average 88% 81 A


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.

1999Annie AwardBest Animated FeatureThe Iron GiantWon
Directing in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production Shared with Tim McCanliesWon
Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest AnimationWon
2000BAFTA Children's AwardBest Feature Film Shared with Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff and Tim McCanliesWon
Hugo AwardBest Dramatic Presentation Shared with Tim McCanlies and Ted Hughes (Based upon the book)Nominated
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America AwardBest ScriptNominated
2004Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest AnimationThe IncrediblesWon
2005Academy AwardBest Animated FeatureWon
Best Original ScreenplayNominated
Annie AwardBest Animated FeatureWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
Hugo AwardBest Dramatic PresentationWon
London Critics Circle Film AwardsScreenwriter of the YearNominated
Online Film Critics Society AwardBest Screenplay, OriginalNominated
Saturn AwardBest WritingWon
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America AwardBest ScriptNominated
2006Hugo AwardBest Dramatic PresentationJack-Jack AttackNominated
2007Boston Society of Film Critics AwardBest ScreenplayRatatouilleWon
Chicago Film Critics Association AwardBest Screenplay, OriginalNominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association AwardBest Animation Shared with Jan PinkavaWon
2008Academy AwardBest Animated FeatureWon
Best Original Screenplay Shared with Jan Pinkava and Jim CapobiancoNominated
Annie AwardBest Animated FeatureWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature ProductionWon
BAFTA Film AwardBest Animated FilmWon
Golden Globe AwardBest Animated Feature FilmWon
Online Film Critics Society AwardBest Screenplay, OriginalNominated
Saturn AwardBest WritingWon
2012Best DirectorMission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolNominated

See also


  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. "Brad Bird – Director Bio". Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  3. Berens, Jessica (September 29, 2007). "Ratatouille: Year of the rat". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  4. "Brad Bird ancestry". Retrieved August 15, 2012.
  5. Gaiser, Heidi (November 12, 2004). "Kalispell Native is the Superhero Behind "The Incredibles"". Daily Inter Lake. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  6. Canemaker, John (August 8, 1999). "FILM; A Disney Dissenter Shuns Song and Dance". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  7. Korkis, Jim (February 7, 2014). "Animation Anecdotes #148". Cartoon Research. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  8. Petrakis, John (September 3, 1999). "'Iron Giant' Director Bird Got Animated Start With Disney". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  9. Huddleston, Jr., Tom (June 15, 2018). "How 'Incredibles 2' director Brad Bird got his start at Disney". CNBC.
  10. Gigaom | Pixar's Brad Bird on Fostering Innovation
  11. Brad Bird (January 19, 2008). "Not My Job: NPR". Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  12. "Brad Bird". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  13. Chapman, Tom (July 4, 2018). "Brad Bird Insists Incredibles 2 Is NOT a 'Kids Movie'". Comic Book Resources.
  14. Amidi, Amid (July 3, 2018). "Brad Bird: 'Incredibles 2' Is NOT A Kids Movie". Cartoon Brew.
  15. Nolan, L.D. (November 17, 2018). "Incredibles 2: Brad Bird Disagrees With iTunes Classification". Comic Book Resources.
  16. El-Mahmoud, Sarah. "Brad Bird Says Incredibles 2 Is Not A 'Kids Movie' And Should Be Reclassified". CinemaBlend.
  17. Utichi, Joe (October 26, 2007). "Brad Bird Takes RT Through Ratatouille". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  18. Sciretta, Peter (March 13, 2008). "Pixar teams with Warner Bros for Brad Bird's 1906". /Film. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  19. Hill, Jim (February 10, 2009). ""Incredibles" sequel is stalled until Bird can get "1906" off the ground". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
  20. Kit, Borys (March 24, 2010). "'Incredibles' helmer on 'Mission: Impossible IV' list (exclusive)". Heat Vision. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  21. Barnes, Brooks (December 9, 2011). "His Mission: Telling Stories to Grown-Ups". New York Times.
  22. "Brad Bird's 1952 is Now Tomorrowland". January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  23. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. "Nicholas Bird". Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  27. "See The Voices Behind Your Favorite 'Finding Nemo' Characters". May 31, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
  28. Meszoros, Mark (June 15, 2018). "'Incredibles 2' a dazzling sequel". Journal Advocate. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  29. Todd VanDerWerff, Emily. "Why Incredibles director Brad Bird gets compared to Ayn Rand — and why he shouldn't be". Vox. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  30. Lamble, Ryan. "Brad Bird responds to critics of Incredibles and Tomorrowland". Dennis Publishing. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  31. Jacques, Adam. "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. "The Iron Giant commentary". Warner Home Video.
  33. Paul Leiva, Steven. "'The Spirit' movie that could have been", Los Angeles Times - Hero Complex, Dec. 12, 2008
  34. Fiamma, Andrea (April 15, 2015). "Il trailer del film di Spirit mai realizzato da Brad Bird" (in Italian). Fumettologica. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  35. "The Making of The Iron Giant". Warner Bros. Archived from the original on March 21, 2006. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  36. Linder, Brian (July 31, 2001). "Grazer Curious About CG George". IGN. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  37. Olly Richards (May 24, 2007). "Homer's Odyssey". Empire. pp. 72–78.
  38. Christopher Orr (June 22, 2012). "'Brave': A Disappointment Worth Seeing". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  39. Gardner, Eric (February 15, 2012). "Warner Bros. Wins 'Last Samurai' Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  40. Fischer, Russ (January 27, 2010). "What Happened to Brad Bird's 1906?". Slashfilm. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  41. 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.
  42. 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.
  43. 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.
  44. "T-Meter Rating of 'The Iron Giant'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  45. "The Iron Giant Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  46. "T-Meter Rating of 'The Incredibles'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  47. "The Incredibles Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  48. "T-Meter Rating of 'Ratatouille'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  49. "Ratatouille Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  50. "T-Meter Rating of 'Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  51. "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Reviews, Ratings, Credits". Metacritic. Retrieved April 22, 2012.
  52. "Tomorrowland (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  53. "Tomorrowland Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  54. "Incredibles 2 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  55. "Incredibles 2 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  56. "Brad Bird (I) Awards". IMDb. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
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