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Up Director Pete Docter Reacts to His Oscar Nominations

Among Up's five Oscar nominations this morning was a big one: the first Best Picture nod for an animated film since Beauty and the Beast in 1991. A few minutes ago, we spoke with excited Up director Pete Docter, who also scored his third nomination for Best Original Screenplay today.

Congratulations on the film's five nominations. How do you feel?
Pretty elated. My head's kind of swimming, so if I say sentences that are in the background, excuse me.

We'll forgive you. How did you find out?
Well, my wife and I woke up early, grabbed the computer, sat in bed, and listened to the nominations. It’s surreal to have your name read out over the Internet at 5:30 in the morning

Thank you for not being one of those nominees who lies and says they were asleep.
No, we were excited. We couldn’t sleep.

What are you going to do to celebrate?
Well, I’m going to have lunch with my wife today; I bet that will be fun. And I bet there will be a little toast at work, you know, there’s happy people here.

This is the first time since the creation of the Best Animated Film category that an animated film’s been nominated for Best Picture — that’s quite a milestone.
Yeah, Beauty and the Beast in the early nineties got a nod, so we’re only the second one, and it's been awhile since then. It’s just fantastic because, I’ve said before, we really look at these films as films, not as having any special rights or permissions, and for the rest of the film community to honor us in that way, sort of confirms our approach. It’s fantastic.

No director of an animated film has ever been nominated for Best Director. Why do you think that is?
I know that there is a certain amount of confusion or lack of knowledge about the way we work. I think a lot of folks tend to think of computers as having ... You know, you just type in some numbers. They don’t really understand that the whole process is actually very similar. The approach to the cinematography, we use the same language, two shots and overs, master lighting, and all kinds of things that are very, very similar. But I don't know if people are aware of that.

After Toy Story and Wall-E, this is your third nomination for Best Original Screenplay. How much did you expect these?
Really, you have no idea. People have written all sorts of things and you try not to be swayed by that one way or the other. I’m especially proud of the [screenplay] one. We spent a long time writing it — we really sweat. That’s the hard part about this whole thing, at least for me, is just getting those characters to really play, and the story to be engaging and surprising. So we spent, out of the five years that this film took it was about three years pretty exclusively on story.

Have you spoken to your co-writers, Bob Peterson or Tom McCarthy, today?
I have. Bob was awake already, but I woke up the rest of his house. I called them this morning and we patted each other on the back over the phone. And I called Tom and he hadn't heard, so it was pretty cool to be able to tell him.

Was he asleep when the nominations were announced?
He was in New York, so he was awake, but he wasn’t paying attention.

So do you have today off? Or are they making you work?
I get to work. It really is, it’s an honor to be nominated, but it's really cool to be able to continue to make a living doing what I get to do. I'm happy to be here.

Since you're excited this morning, is there any chance you might accidentally tell me something about the secret project you're working on now?
It's really in development, so I’m not talking about it yet. But it’s going to be cool.

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images