John Musker

John Musker

Born into an Irish Catholic family in a working class neighborhood of Chicago, Musker found out very early in life that he loved to draw. He would often spend his days doodling in a notebook during school, and his evenings copying the images he saw in Mad Magazine and on TV cartoons. When it came to enroll in college, Musker chose CalArts, where Tim Burton and John Lasseter where among his classmates. After graduating from the university, Musker was hired by Disney as an assistant animator and before long was working on such high-profile projects as "The Fox and the Hound" and "The Black Cauldron" (1985). Then in 1986 Musker, along with Ron Clements and two other collaborators, made his directorial debut with "The Great Mouse Detective." The film was a moderate success and instilled in Musker the confidence he needed to co-direct his second feature, along with Clements, "The Little Mermaid." That massive success of that film marked an era in the studio's history known as "The Disney Renaissance," which returned the studio back to the prominence it enjoyed under its founder, Walt Disney. For their follow-up feature, Musker and Clements decided to make a movie about a down and out street kid who employs the magical powers of a genie (memorably voiced by Robin Williams) to make a beautiful princess fall in love with him. That film, 1992's "Aladdin," was an even bigger hit than "The Little Mermaid," earning two Oscar nods and thus signaling the rise of Musker and Clements as two of the most celebrated animated film directors of their generation. Although Musker and Clements' next two films, "Hercules" (1997) and "Treasure Planet" (2002), were not as well-received by the public, as audiences were gravitating more towards computer-generated animation, by the mid-2000s the public started to long for the 2-D animation of old. Musker and Clements satisfied that yearning for the old days of paper-drawn animation by directing 2009's "The Princess and the Frog." A return to form for the duo, the film was a bona-fide hit, racking up three Oscar nods, including Best Animated Film of the Year. Musker reteamed with his longtime collaborator Ron Clements once again for "Moana," an animated adventure tale set in Polynesia and scheduled to be released in 2016.