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A visit with director Rob Minkoff

Director Rob Minkoff with Kidsday reporters Rachel Meiselas

Director Rob Minkoff with Kidsday reporters Rachel Meiselas and Max Reinhardt, both 9 from Syosset Credit: Beth Katz Meiselas

Movie director Rob Minkoff visited Syosset High School in the spring to talk to students about his work. He has directed movies such as "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," "Stuart Little" and "The Lion King."

Do you like animals? Is that why you made the movies "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," "The Lion King" and "Stuart Little"?

I do like animals. I guess maybe that's why I made those movies. I didn't think about it quite that way, but I have done a lot of films about talking animals, so I guess there is definitely a theme running through my work.

When you were little, did you know you wanted to be a director?

When I was little, I really loved movies and I also did a lot of performing. As an actor and singer, I loved to draw and I thought animation was a perfect combination of all those things. It was storytelling, it was obviously movies, acting and music, so it was really a way to put it all together.

How did you go from animation to scary movies like "Haunted Mansion"?

The first live-action movie I directed was "Stuart Little," which I started in 1989, and it came out in 2000 -- although I did a short live-action thing for the Walt Disney theme park for the MGM Studio tour, which was called "Mickey's Audition." So that was actually my very first live-action production. It was a short film, and we had amazing people in it: Mel Brooks, Angela Lansbury, and even Michael Eisner.

What is your favorite movie of all time that you did not direct?

I am a big fan of two movies. One is the "Wizard of Oz," the original, and the other is "Singin' in the Rain," another movie musical.

Are any of your movies based on your life?

I don't think I have ever made a movie that is autobiographical, but you can't help but use experiences in your life in the movies that you make. I can remember one experience making "The Lion King" when we were creating Scar, and we were creating the scene and introducing his character, and a mouse goes running through the scene, and Scar smacks his paw and then he picks it up, and the first line in the movie is "Life's not fair." I don't know if you remember that, but he says, [and Rob becomes Scar] "Life's not fair, we have that in common, you and I. I will never be king and you shall never see another day. Adieu." And he's about to eat him, when Zazu shows up and interrupts him. That line, "Life's not fair," was a line I remember my father saying to me once when he came home with my older brother with ice cream cones, and I said, "Hey, did you bring me one?" and he said, "No." And I said, "That's not fair," and he said, "Life's not fair."

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