Birthdate: February 24, 1958
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas
Chris Buck (birthname: Christopher James Buck) is a highly respected animation director-writer whose fame was solidified as the creator of Disney’s Frozen (2013). Fresh out of the talent incubator that is the animation department of the California Institute for the Arts, Chris Buck joined Disney’s animation house as a character animator and designer for The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron (1985), The Brave Little Toaster (1987), Oliver & Company (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), and Bebe’s Kids (1992).
Buck stepped up to become supervising animator on Pocahontas (1995) and Home on the Range (2004), and in the interim, Buck had his debut as director on Disney’s Tarzan (1999), co-directed by Kevin Lima, with the voices of Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lance Henriksen, and grossing a potent $448 million global gross.
Chris Buck moved over to Sony Pictures Animation to be a director (with co-director Ash Brannon) and co-writer (with Brannon, Don Rhymer, and Chris Jenkins) of Surf’s Up (2007), with the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, and James Woods, and receiving an Oscar nomination for best-animated feature. Buck’s biggest project to date—marking his return to Disney—was his creation of the huge hit animated musical fantasy, Frozen (2013), starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Geoff, and Santino Fontana, and which won the Oscar for best animated feature, and gained a phenomenal $1.28 billion gross for an original, non-sequel feature.
Buck was director (with co-director and writer Jennifer Lee) and co-writer of the story of the successful sequel, Frozen II (2019), reuniting the voice cast of the original, and out-grossing the first movie with a $1.45 global take, making it the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time. Buck was director (with debuting co-director Fawn Veerasunthorn) of Disney’s original animated musical fantasy, Wish (2023), starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, and Alan Tudyk leading the voice cast in the $200-million-budgeted movie.
Chris Buck was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. Buck’s family then moved from Wichita to the Orange County suburb of Placentia, California. Buck graduated from Placentia’s El Dorado High School, and then studied character animation at and graduated from the California Institute of the Arts, where he also served as a teacher from 1988 to 1993. Buck has been married to Oscar-winning sound editor Shelley Rae Hinton since 1989; the couple has three children, Reed, Woody, and the late Ryder (who was killed in a car accident on a Los Angeles freeway).
Influence: Chris Buck has said that he is most influenced by Walt Disney (his mentor was one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” Eric Larson), and in particular, Disney’s Pinocchio (1940).