He is responsible for bringing some of the most memorable animated characters to life on the silver screen. His career started at the Walt Disney Animation Studios after graduation from the California Institute of the Arts. He went to work on directing the Roger Rabbit short “Tummy Trouble” in 1989 which was shown before the feature presentation of the studios’ “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”
However Rob Minkoff is best known for directing Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1994 and introducing us to such beloved characters as Simba, Nala, Timon, Pumbaa and Mufasa. He is also known for his work on “Stuart Little” in 1999 and his sequel in 2002. Minkoff is now responsible for bringing two of his personal favorites the bespectacled Mr. Peabody and his trusty friend Sherman to life.
Fellow animator and collaborator Jason Clark asked Minkoff of what he thought about the two iconic animated characters from the late 1950’s-1960’s. Minkoff replied “I love them!” When further questioned about making a movie with them, he added “that’s a great idea.”
Minkoff means it when he says he loves Sherman and Peabody. Born in 1962 he says he was watching the animated duo even before he could talk. He said he was always a fan of the pair and jumped at the opportunity to make the movie admitting however that it was a long time coming. From the initial spark about the idea to its debut on the screen Minkoff says the process has been about 12 years which he even admits might be a record for bringing any movie idea to life. “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” actually spent three years in production before they saw the light of a projector.
Part of the problem was getting a studio to sign off on the project and then there was the estate of Sherman and Peabody’s creator Jay Ward. After shopping the project around Minkoff pitched the idea to DreamWorks and former Disney animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg with whom Minkoff worked on “The Lion King.”
Depending on the box office receipts it might be easier to make a sequel of “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” since DreamWorks now owns the rights to the characters and given the vastly untapped places the “boy wonder” and his dog can go, the world of animation is limitless.
Minkoff says the entire process of taking “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” from idea to screen has been fulfilling and exciting. “It is really, really gratifying to be able to have an idea, have a dream and then see it realized on film,” the director admits.
As he contemplates what is next for Sherman and Peabody as well as for himself, Minkoff has never lost sight of how his interest in drawing animated characters began. In a recent interview in Philadelphia, Minkoff says he was inspired by his cousin at an early age when his cousin came to visit. Minkoff says he watched his cousin’s doodle come to life on the page and he immediately knew what he wanted to do with his life.
“Mr. Peabody and Sherman” now in theaters is rated PG.