Jim Morris helped turn the dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park” into bloodthirsty menaces. He helped make the T-1000 villain in “Terminator 2” a liquid-metal terror. And this year, the New Castle native helmed one of the most beloved movies of 2008, Disney-Pixar’s futuristic “WALL-E.”
Morris, one-time effects wizard for George Lucas’ Industrial Light + Magic company, is general manager at Pixar. He landed his first role as producer of an animated feature film with “WALL-E.” The tale of a lonely robot left to clean up a desolate earth earned near-hysterical acclaim.
Even as a teenager at Tower Hill School, Morris created elaborate film projects using stop-motion animation. Morris jumped to Pixar in 2005, as the studio was enjoying a monstrous string of successes—from “Toy Story” to “Finding Nemo” to “The Incredibles” to “Cars” and “Ratatouille.”
“You never make a great film by second-guessing what people want to see,” Morris says. “You have to have an artist and a vision to get people to follow it, then you have a fighting chance of making something that’s both entertaining and a little special and different.”
Producing “WALL-E” gave Morris a chance to staff, cast, budget, market and post-produce a blockbuster, but his creative talents didn’t go to waste.
“My biggest creative contribution to ‘WALL-E’ is the look and feel of the film,” he says. “We wanted to create a look that made it feel like it was photographed instead of created in a computer somewhere. I brought a lot of my live-action background, and I brought in directors of photography that I’d worked with to get the right atmosphere.”
At Industrial Light + Magic, Morris directed visual effects on some of the most technologically significant blockbusters of the past 20 years: “The Abyss,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Death Becomes Her,” “Jurassic Park” and “Artificial Intelligence: AI.”
Even in “Forrest Gump,” Morris and the ILM crew worked their magic to create dulcet skies, which affect the tone and feel of the movie.
“It’s a great example of the invisible side of effects,” Morris says. “A lot of really subtle, lyrical stuff in that film that’s completely invisible, but was a terrific way to use technology to enhance the movie-watching experience.”