Roger Allers
Roger Allers.png
Biographical information
Full name

Roger Charles Allers


June 29, 1949


Rye, New York

Career information

   Storyboard artist


1970 – present


The Lion King

The real heart and emotional underpinning of the whole story is the father-son relationship. At one point in the film, Simba steps into his father's paw print and we see this image of his little paw in an enormous print. It is very symbolic. When his father is taken away from him too soon, he feels unworthy and inadequate. My favorite part of the film is when his father returns in ghost form and tells him that his spirit lives on in his son.
―Roger Allers on The Lion King[1]

Roger Allers is an American film director and screenwriter, storyboard artist, and animator. He is well known for directing The Lion King for Disney.



Born in Rye, New York but raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, Allers became hooked on animation, at the age of five, after seeing Disney's Peter Pan. Deciding that he wanted to purse a career at Disney and even work alongside Walt Disney himself, a few years later, he sent off to Disneyland for a do-it-yourself animation kit.[1] However, Allers, by then a high school student, grew discouraged about achieving his dream when he heard of Walt Disney's death in 1966.[2]

Despite his chances of meeting Walt were gone, Allers still pressed on to receive a Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University. But, when he enrolled in a class at Harvard University, is when he found his interest in animation was revitalized. After receiving his degree in fine arts, he spent the next two years traveling and living in Greece.[1] As a young adult, Allers accepted a job with Lisberger Studios, where he worked as an animator for projects such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Make a Wish, and various other commercials.

In 1978, he relocated to Los Angeles with Steven Lisberger to work on a feature film titled, Animalympics, to which he provided story work, character design and animation for the film. Interestingly, Allers animated Kit Mambo, the lion star of Animalympics.[3] Three years later, Allers found work serving as part of the storyboard team for Tron, the first theatrical feature film he worked on. In 1980, Allers and his family moved to Toronto, Canada, where he worked for Nelvana Studios as an animator on a feature titled Rock & Rule. Following a brief return to Los Angeles, Allers provided character design, preliminary animation, and story development for the Japanese-produced animated feature, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. For the next two years, he resided in Tokyo to serve as an animation director overseeing the Japanese artists.[1]

Returning to Los Angeles in 1985, he heard that Disney was looking for a storyboard artist to work on Oliver & Company. When he applied for the job, Allers was asked to draw some sample character model sheets as a tryout, and worked on a portfolio and was hired shortly thereafter.[1] He was hired, and eventually went on to become the head of story on that film. During that time, Allers entered a new wave of Disney artists that would create theatrical Disney animated features that would renew interest in the general public.

In October 1991, Allers signed on to co-direct King of the Jungle (which would become The Lion King) alongside its initial director George Scribner. Allers brought on board Brenda Chapman, who would become the head of story. Afterwards, several of the lead crew members, including Allers, Scribner, Don Hahn, Chapman, and production designer Chris Sanders, took a safari trip to Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya, in order to study and gain an appreciation of the environment for the film. After six months of story development work, Scribner decided to leave the project, as he feuded with Allers and the producers on their decision to turn the film into a musical, as Scribner's intention was of making a documentary-like film more focused on natural aspects.[4] In April 1992, Rob Minkoff was assigned as co-director.[1] Despite most of the Disney Feature Animation staff and studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg feeling The Lion King was a less important project than Pocahontas, the film went on to receive raving reviews and gross $767 million worldwide in its original theatrical run. Three years later, he would reteam with Lion King co-screenwriter Irene Mecchi to write the book for the stage adaptation of The Lion King, and were nominated a Tony Award for Best Book for a Musical. They would later reteam to contribute additional screenplay material to The Lion King 1½, as well as write the musical adaptation of the children's book, Beatrice's Goat.[5]

Outside of The Lion King, Allers was attached to direct the animated epic, Kingdom of the Sun, slated for release in summer 2000. After nearly four years of production, Allers asked to leave the project due to creative differences with co-director Mark Dindal and the failure to meet its promotional deadlines.[6] Ultimately, the project was reworked into The Emperor's New Groove. In May 2003, it was announced that Allers and Brenda Chapman would direct Tam Lin, loosely based on a Celtic folk ballad, for Sony Pictures Animation.[7] However, the next year, he was added on as a director alongside Jill Culton and co-director Anthony Stacchi to the animated comedy, Open Season, featuring the voice talents of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher.[8] Around that same time, he served as director to an animated short, The Little Matchgirl, which was nominated an Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Both projects were released in 2006.[9]

In 2012, it was announced that Allers will oversee the narrative structure, as well as supervise the production of an animated adaptation of The Prophet.[10][11] In May 2014, a work-in-progress version of The Prophet was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.[12]

Personal life

When Allers moved to live in Greece, he met his future wife, Leslee Allers. [13] Today, Allers and Leslee live in Venice, California. They have a daughter, Leah, and a son, Aidan.[13]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Lion King: Film Notes.
  2. Roer Allers biography and filmography. Tribute Entertainment Media Group.
  3. Roger Allers - Movies, Movie Clips and Trailers.
  4. The Lion King: A Memoir –Don Hahn The Lion King: Diamond Edition. 4 October 2011. Walt Disney Home Entertainment
  5. McBrier, Page. Beatrice's Goat…the musical!.
  6. Hill, Jim. The Long Story Behind the Emperor's New Groove. The Laughing Place.
  7. Harris, Dana. Sony tooning new animation unit. Variety.
  8. DeMott, Rick. Lion King Director Up for Open Season, Writers for Surf’s Up. Animation World Magazine.
  9. Armstrong, Josh. Director Roger Allers on The Little Matchgirl. Animated Views.
  10. Minovitz, Ethan. Hayek, Allers To Animate The Prophet. Big Cartoon News.
  11. "Lion King" Director Roger Allers and Salma Hayek Push Forward on "The Prophet". Cartoon Brew.
  12. Setoodeh, Ramin. CANNES: Salma Hayek On Producing ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’ (Exclusive). Variety.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Roger Allers Bioraphy - Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo! Inc.
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