Kelly Asbury Dead: Director of ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,’ ‘Shrek 2’ and ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Was 60

He began at Disney and additionally labored on ‘Toy Story,’ ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘The Little Mermaid.’

Kelly Asbury, the revered animator who directed such movies as Spirit: Stallion of the CimarronShrek 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet, has died. He was 60.

Asbury died Friday after a protracted battle with most cancers, rep Nancy Newhouse Porter confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. “This was one of the most admired and beloved people in the industry,” she stated.

Most not too long ago, Asbury helmed the STX animated movie Uglydolls (2019), a musical starring Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton and Pitbull.

A CalArts alum and three-time Annie Awards nominee who began his profession at Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1983, Asbury was mentored by legendary Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones — he was a “beacon of reassurance at all times,” he instructed THR‘s Carolyn Giardina final yr — and labored as a narrative artist alongside John Lasseter on Toy Story (1995).

In his almost 4 a long time in the enterprise, the Beaumont, Texas native additionally contributed to such different noteworthy animated options as The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), James and the Giant Peach (1996), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Chicken Run (2000), Shrek (2001), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), Frozen (2013) and Sherlock Gnomes (2019).

In addition to the Oscar-nominated Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) and Shrek 2 (2004), each for DreamWorks Animation, Asbury directed or co-directed Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) and Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017).

“Contrary to what outsiders may think, making animation can be, well, grueling, and always is at some phase of production,” he stated in a July interview with Cartoon Brew. “Still, I can honestly state that one of the emotional hazards I’ve discovered about being an artist and/or director of any animated project is the inevitability of taking everything about it into my heart. I believe that, particularly for a director, such a connection to the project is an inescapable job requirement.”

Survivors embody his spouse, Jacquie; stepsons Andrew and Connor; sister Gwen; and niece Leslie.

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