WALL-E, the story about a robot in a post-apocalyptic world filled with trash, won the best animated feature award at the 81st Academy Awards on Sunday; director Andrew Stanton accepted the award and thanked his high school drama teacher.
"It's been such an inspiration to spend time with a character who so tenaciously struggles to find the beauty in everything that he sees," Stanton said in receiving the award. "It's a noble aspiration to have at times like these. I dearly want to thank everyone that's been on this film: the cast, the crew, everybody at Disney and Pixar Studios. I have to single out Ed Catmull, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs for creating a cinematic safe haven where only a film like Wall-E could be made."
Stanton added: "To my wife, Julie, my kids, Ben and Audrey, I love you so much. And I guess I'd be remiss if I did not thank my high-school drama teacher, Phil Perry, for 28 years ago casting me as Barnaby in Hello, Dolly! Creative seeds are sown in the oddest of places, so thank you so much to the Academy for this."
Backstage, Stanton elaborated on what the animated movie meant to him. "WALL-E really was the most unique personal film I could have made, and I really expected it to speak to a minority, not a majority, because I felt I had gotten away with that with [Finding] Nemo," he said.
Stanton admitted that it was different from working on Toy Story with Pixar. "Toy Story was an attempt to just show that it's a movie, and we just happen to be using animation as a medium to tell it," he said. "It's like saying, 'Because it's in black and white, suddenly it means it has to be a cop movie or mystery.' It's very odd. We have just been trying to make the most sophisticated film that we can with the very deep characters, ... and we assume that if it's well told, then any age will understand it."