Bob Peterson was born in January of 1961, in Wooster, Ohio. He spent time in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Dover, Ohio. He graduated from Dover High School before receiving his undergraduate degree from Ohio Northern.
While studying for a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Indiana’s Purdue University, Peterson spent time working in a computer graphics lab. It was there that he also received his first cartooning experience, writing and drawing Loco-Motives, a daily four-panel strip for Purdue University’s Exponent newspaper.
Following graduation, Peterson moved to Santa Barbara, California to work for Wavefront Technologies, where he taught people how to use computer software such as Maya. This was followed by a stint in production with the Hollywood-based Company, Rezn8 Productions.
After seeing John Lasseter give a keynote speech at SIGGRAPH, Bob knew that he wanted to work at Pixar as he really felt that Lasseter really understood how to blend computer animation and story in an appealing way. Peterson finally did join Pixar in 1994.
His first assignment was that of layout artist and animator on Toy Story. He went on to become a story artist on A Bug’s Life before assuming a story supervisor role on Monsters, Inc. Bob is also memorable as the voice of Roz. His voice was pitched electronically to sound more like a woman. As is often the case, his temp work proved to be far funnier that subsequent actresses that auditioned for the role, so Bob got the part.
Bob co-wrote the screenplay of Finding Nemo. He also played the part of Mr. Ray, who teaches Nemo and friends important lessons in oceanography. For his hard work, Bob was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Screenplay category.
Bob was fairly quiet for the next few years with Pixar projects, but he did find time to help with story elements on Ratatouille. His next assignment with Pete Docter, would prove to be the biggest of his career.
Bob and Pete Docter began bouncing ideas off each other for a new film way back in 2004. The idea centered on an “old man” character that was grouchy, but likeable. Someone in the vein of legendary actors Spencer Tracy or Walter Matthau. This led to the idea of a floating house with a bunch of balloons. Much research was done to bring Up to fruition including a trip to South America to study the Tepuis. Up was released on May 29, 2009 as Pixar’s tenth film and the first feature film in 3D. Bob continued his stellar voice work playing the pivotal role of Dug, a special dog on a special mission.
Bob is currently directing his first feature film at Pixar, The Good Dinosaur. It’s due to hit theaters on May 30, 2014.
- Toy Story (1995) (additional animator, additional layout artist)
- A Bug’s Life (1998) (story artist)
- Toy Story 2 (1999) (story artist)
- Monsters, Inc. (2001) (additional story material, story supervisor)
- Finding Nemo (2003) (screenplay, voice of Mr. Ray)
- Exploring the Reef (2003) (screenplay)
- Ratatouille (2007) (additional story material)
- Up (2009) (original story, co-director, voice of Dug/Alpha)
- Partly Cloudy (2009) (story advisor)
- The Good Dinosaur (2014) (director, writer?)
- Peterson’s voice talent has been put to particularly good use with Mr. Ray (Finding Nemo), Roz (Monsters, Inc.) and Dug (Up).
- Bob was also the voice of Geri in Geri’s Game.
- Artistic influences growing up included Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Chuck Schultz and Bill Cosby.
- Bob animated nine scenes on Toy Story (most involved Sid, the kid who torments toys)
- You can see Bob as Terry in the 2009 live action film Tracy written and directed by Dan Scanlon. The film features many Pixar employees including Doug Sweetland, Elissa Knight, Teddy Newton, Brad Lewis, Jeff Pidgeon and many more.
- Peterson had this to say about Dug (courtesy of the Up Production Notes): “The very first thing he says is, ‘I have just met you, and I love you.’ That came when I was a camp counselor in the early ’80s in Ohio. The first week of camp, a kid ran up to me and threw his arms around me and said, ‘You’re my camp counselor! I love you!’ That was the key to Dug. Dug is the stream-of-consciousness of what we think a dog would be thinking. He’s emotional and loving and, at times, happily unaware of the reality surrounding him.”
- Peterson currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and three children.