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Former Pixar Director Lee Unkrich Shares Letter to Former Colleagues to Explain His Exit

”You are putting important, meaningful art into the world,“ the ”Coco“ director writes

Former Pixar director Lee Unkrich has shared a letter addressed to his former colleagues at the studio explaining his reasons for leaving after 25 years.

“It is impossible for me to adequately express how epic this twenty-five year journey has been, and how much it has meant to work alongside such fantastic people and phenomenal talents,” Unkrich wrote in the letter, which he shared on social media on Saturday. “Many of you are like family to me, and it’s nearly incomprehensible to imagine no longer being here at Pixar with you.”

Unkrich, who directed “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is a longtime editor at Pixar, dating back to its early days and to the first “Toy Story” film. He also served as a co-director “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

Echoing the statement released with the announcement of his exit, Unkrich made clear he was leaving the animation studio to spend time with family and pursue “interests that have long been back-burnered.”

“I am incredibly grateful to the leadership at Pixar and Disney for believing in me, mentoring me and championing me throughout the years, the director wrote. “I am also grateful to all of you who have poured your heart and souls into the many films we’ve made together. You are the pinnacle of talent and passion, and you are putting important, meaningful art into the world.”

Unkrich’s final film at Pixar, 2017’s “Coco,” took home the Academy Award for best animated feature and pulled in more than $800 million at the box office.

“My experience with ‘Coco’ has undeniably shown me how deeply the stories we create can affect both individuals and entire cultures,” he wrote.

Unkrich’s exit comes amid shakeups at Pixar, with former chief John Lasseter leaving in Nov. 2017 amid sexual misconduct accusations, and President Ed Catmull retiring at the end of 2018.