Kelly Asbury, Director of 'Shrek' and 'Smurfs' Sequels, Dead at 60

The revered filmmaker and animator died Friday after a long battle with cancer.

Kelly Asbury

Image via Getty/Emma McIntyre

Kelly Asbury

Kelly Asbury, best known for directing Shrek 2 and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, has died at the age of 60. His representative, Nancy Newhouse Porter of Newhouse Porter Hubbard, confirmed the tragic news to Deadline.

"He was one of the most admired and beloved people in the industry," Porter said. "It’s heartbreaking for everyone."

The filmmaker/animator/author died peacefully Friday in Encino, California, following a long battle with cancer. Asbury began his animation career in the early 1980s, when he joined Walt Disney Feature Animation. He would go on to receive credits in Disney classics like The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story. He didn't make his directorial debut until 2002 when he co-directed the Oscar-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Several years later, he would co-direct Shrek 2, which also received an Academy Award nomination.

He is survived by his wife, Jacquie Boggs; stepsons Andrew and Connor Boggs; sister Gwen Speed; and niece Leslie McKeller.

The filmmakers, artists, storytellers and entire DreamWorks Animation Family mourn the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Kelly Asbury. His legacy and talent lives on through his work.

— DreamWorks Animation (@Dreamworks) June 27, 2020

Like many, I am shocked and heartbroken upon hearing of the death of Kelly Asbury. An animation veteran working on films like "Beauty And The Beast" and "Shrek 2", I hear he was also a man who kept working even near death's door. We are forever grateful, RIP Kelly Asbury.

— Jackson Lennox #NewDeal4Animation (@JacksonLennox3) June 27, 2020

Kelly Asbury has passed away. His fingerprints are on a lot of great animated films, but my favorite of his work will always be his understated and sensitive Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002).

— Tofte | Christopher Polt 🏳️‍🌈 (@CBPolt) June 27, 2020

I'm shocked to discover that Kelly Asbury died today at the age of 60. A fantastic director and artist, he directed films like Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Shrek 2 and story work on Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda, Wreck-It Ralph, and Frozen. I'll miss him.

— Animated Antic (@Animated_Antic) June 26, 2020

Kelly Asbury gave us:
• A unique and underrated masterpiece with Spirit.
• The pinnacle of animated comedy with Shrek 2.
• A witty Shakespeare twist with Gnomeo & Juliet.
• An earnest attempt to redeem The Smurfs with The Lost Village.

Thank you for your amazing work, Kelly.

— Karl (Karlamon) 🇳🇿 (@Karlamon9) June 26, 2020

We were so very sad to hear that our Uglydolls movie director Kelly Asbury has passed away... he was a very kind talented artist and the world is much less without him here. We are very proud of the film he made for us, and will think of him always. ❤️

— DAVID HORVATH (@davidzhorvath) June 27, 2020

Kelly Asbury was a really talented animator who directed some awesome films. Shrek 2 is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Spirit is great too. He also directed UglyDolls and Smurfs: The Lost Village - both very underrated films. I never met him, but I’m gonna miss him...

— Dylan | TheBrickPal 🎮 Zelda: TOTK (@RealBrickPal) June 26, 2020

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