Cheat Sheet: Brad Bird
Phillip Bradley ‘Brad’ Bird
Date of Birth:
15th September 1957
Place of birth:
The Iron Giant, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
What you probably already know:
Brad Bird has been the toast of film critics everywhere since his first film The Iron Giant received rave reviews (despite its undistinguished box office performance) back in 1999. Since then, he has been responsible for two of the most popular animated family films of all time, Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles and Ratatouille – all three films won the Annie for Best Animated Feature, and the latter two (both of which were written as well as directed by Bird) won Oscars for Best Animated Feature. Needless to say, this is a record which is pretty much unmatched in either the animated or live-action arenas.
Not content with being an impossibly eminent director of animated features, however, Bird has flown the nest and diversified into the real; his first live action film is due out this December, and it’s none other than the hotly anticipated (by a certain sort of person) fourth instalment in the wildly successful Mission: Impossible franchise. Bird joins a star-studded list of M:I directors which includes Brian DePalma (Scarface, Carrie), John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8), and inherits a franchise with global takings of $355,000,000 to date. It’s been a long thirty years since his uncredited role as an animator on Disney’s The Fox and the Hound, but the boy done good.
What you might not know:
Before turning up in Hollywood, Brad Bird earnt his crust working on the small screen – specifically, by facilitating the success of one of the most popular animated series of all time. It was Brad Bird whose influence was instrumental in moving Matt Groening’s odd little Simpsons cartoons from a one minute window on The Tracey Ullman Show to their own full length slot. It was Brad Bird who directed the crucial early episodes Krusty Gets Busted, which saw the introduction of Kent Brockman and Sideshow Bob’s first speaking role, and Krusty meets The Jazz Singer pastiche Like Father, Like Clown. It was Brad Bird who executive produced the first eight series (back when it was actually good), and DIRECTED THE FUCKING MUSIC VIDEO FOR DO THE BARTMAN. That, you must admit, is quite a CV.
Ghost Protocol wasn’t actually intended to be Brad Bird’s live action début – before Tom Cruise oiled his way into Bird’s diary, pole position belonged to his forthcoming disaster movie 1906. Due out almost exactly a year after the next Mission: Impossible film hits out screens, 1906 combines a drama about the widespread political corruption in turn-of-the-century San Francisco with a $200m depiction of the earthquake which flattened it in the film’s titular year. 1906 will be the second live action film to boast Pixar involvement after John Carter, next year’s Disney-Pixar sci-fi epic based on the classic John Carter of Mars novels, but with no start date yet revealed it looks as if the hefty budget may have condemned it to a few years in development hell. Watch this space…
Brad Bird quote:
“Animation is about creating the illusion of life. And you can’t create it if you don’t have one.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“With an average approval rating of 90% for each of his films on Metacritic, Brad Bird is one of the few living directors who can legitimately boast ‘universal acclaim’.”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“Well, it’s not like cartoons are real films, is it?”
Could Brad Bird be the man who makes Tom Cruise watchable again? We’re almost (almost, mind) excited…
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