Pixar Animation Studios is known for its high level of creativity from writers and directors like John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and Joe Ranft. But did you know that many of Pixar's creative staff also occasionally make appearances in the films as well? Since Pixar produces animated films, it's the perfect opportunity for the creatives to perform without actually appearing onscreen (which, as you'll see, can be interesting!).
Since these "cameos" are so common, I've compiled a list of my picks for the top 5 creative personnel performances in Pixar movies.
#5: Andrew Stanton as Crush and the Seagulls (Finding Nemo)
Andrew Stanton has delivered so much of the creativity at Pixar, as he wrote the stories and screenplays for most of the studio's films and directed A Bug's Life (co-directed with John Lasseter), Finding Nemo, Wall•e, and Finding Dory. But what's not as well known is that he actually provided the voices for two of the funniest characters in Nemo!
The laid back, surfer-like sea turtle Crush as well as the energetic seagulls who are always shouting "MINE!" were both voiced by Stanton. It just goes to show that he's a really talented duuuuuuude . . .
#4: Bob Peterson as Roz (Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University)
Roz, the no-nonsense boss from Pixar's Monsters films is one of the funniest and most memorable characters from the franchise. But it only gets better when you find out that she was actually voiced by Bob Peterson, writer of Finding Nemo and Up (also co-director) who also serves on Pixar's prestigious senior creative team.
Peterson has actually been a pretty prolific performer at Pixar, seeing as how his acting credits actually outnumber his creative ones. He also provided the voices for Geri (Geri's Game/Toy Story 2), Mr. Ray (Finding Nemo), and Dug the dog (Up).
#3: Joe Ranft as Heimlich (A Bug's Life)
"Candy Corn!! Let me help you to finish it!" This is just one of the many hilarious lines delivered by Heimlich the lovable caterpillar in Pixar's A Bug's Life. The funnier part is that Heimlich's voice was actually provided by the late Joe Ranft, who provided the original stories for Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars, and the short film Mater & the Ghostlight.
Ranft's extensive performing and creative career actually extends far beyond Pixar. His other creative credits have been providing story for The Brave Little Toaster, Oliver & Company, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King. His other notable performances include Jacques the shrimp in Finding Nemo, Wheezy in Toy Story 2, and (outside of Pixar) Igor in The Nightmare Before Christmas.
#2: Bud Luckey as Chuckles (Toy Story 3)
About halfway through Toy Story 3, we meet Chuckles the clown, hilariously voiced by the gruff Bud Luckey.
Most viewers probably recognize Luckey's voice from his performance as Rick Dicker in The Incredibles or as the narrator in the short Boundin'. Beyond that, Luckey is actually one of Pixar's most creative members: he wrote and directed Boundin' and did character design for Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and Cars.
#1: Brad Bird as Edna Mode (The Incredibles)
And finally, here at #1, we have what I think is the funniest and most interesting director performance/cameo of all time! Those who've seen The Incredibles will no doubt remember the snooty superhero fashion designer Edna Mode, and anyone who keeps up with creatives in Hollywood surely idolizes Brad Bird, who wrote and directed The Incredibles as well as Ratatouille and WB's The Iron Giant. The thing that makes both of these personalities ten times better is that they're the same person. According to IMDb . . .
"Lily Tomlin was considered for the part of Edna Mode but turned it down when she heard Brad Bird's vocal performance, saying, 'What do you need me for? You got it already.'"