THR Names John Lasseter Innovator of the Year
The Hollywood Reporter named Pixar’s John Lasseter its Innovator of the Year.
The trade paper noted that the animator has smoothly inherited the mantle from Disney’s Nine Old Men, the animators who created the classic films. The last of them, Ollie Johnston, passed away recently.
“Heart. Inventiveness. Inspiration. These are Lasseter’s own hallmarks,” the paper wrote, “visible in everything from the free education available to Pixar employees to the imaginative way he works with Pixar’s ‘Brain Trust’" a group of directors who play a pivotal role on each film.”
"He’s been an extraordinary force in innovating and renewing excitement about the animated feature in this country," says film historian Charles Solomon. And, he says, he did so "at a time when it was falling into the doldrums."
At a memorable to Johnston, Lasseter said, "We weren’t embraced at that time by many of the people leading (Disney). The Nine Old Men were starting to step away and retire. But it was the Nine Old Men who embraced us. They wanted to teach us everything that they knew. They recognized, more than anybody else, that they were handing the torch off."
He laughs today that he runs the animation studio where he was fired in 1983 which eventually led him to Pixar. Lasseter is a team player and cheerleader, but the paper also notes he’s willing to jettison that which does not work rather than go with a lesser product.
“His quest for perfection has led him to let go of actors who don’t work out, as he did with one actress who was meant to play the title role of Tinker Bell, a film in Disney’s newest direct-to-DVD animated franchise, the Disney Fairies. It has also led him to part ways with filmmakers who don’t share his vision — as he did with Chris Sanders, who was originally attached to direct Bolt,” the paper wrote.
Lasseter’s crew will be releasing its next production, Bolt, November 21.