Jonathan Roberts
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Biographical information

May 10, 1956


Boston, Massachusetts

Career information

Author, producer, screenwriter




The Lion King

As a writer, working on an animated film is very satisfying because the storyboard process lets you instantly visualize what you have written and see your work immediately in picture form. The whole process is very collaborative and it is a big satisfaction to hear moviegoers of all ages reacting to your lines.
―Roberts on writing The Lion King[1]

Jonathan Roberts (born May 10, 1956) is an American screenwriter, television producer and author. He is best known for co-writing Disney's The Lion King.


Born in Boston, Roberts studied English literature at Brown University and took a summer graduate program on book and magazine publishing at Harvard before launching his professional career in New York.[1] First, he worked as a publicist at Workman Publishing Company, but he left to have his own career. His first major success came from being a contributor to the popular satirical publication, The '80s: A Look Back, published in 1979. He went on to even greater success with his next book The Official Preppy Handbook, which became a bestseller. [1]

Later on, Roberts was assigned to write a social satire on Southern California lifestyles brought the native East-Coaster to Los Angeles in 1981, which resulted in the book, How to California.[1] While there, he stayed with his old college roommate, Steven L. Bloom, and collaborated with him on a screenplay about college life called, The Sure Thing. This was later adapted into a feature romantic comedy movie directed by Rob Reiner, which became a critical success. [2]

Later, he went on to write for Fast Times and Beverly Hills, 90210, in which he also served as producer, until 1992. The following year, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, whose screenplay was co-written by Linda Woolverton, was released, but Roberts was uncredited as an additional writer. His work on Homeward Bound brought him to the attention of the studio's animation department where he worked in the story department. [1] Roberts joined alongside writer Irene Mecchi in the rewriting process for The Lion King, as both writers resolved the emotional conflicts in the script, and also added more comedy relief, which created Timon, Pumbaa, and the hyenas.[1] Roberts also helped to create and define personalities for the characters. [1]

After the success of The Lion King, he served as co-screenwriter for the 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl's famous fantasy novel, James and the Giant Peach, and that same year, on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, reuniting him with Mecchi. Though still employed to Disney, Roberts co-wrote Monsters, Inc.


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