October 26, 1971
Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Phil Johnston was an American screenwriter, producer and director who was nominated for an Oscar in 2019 for co-directing the animated sequel "Ralph Breaks the Internet" (2018). Johnston, who was born in Minnesota, took an unlikely path to Hollywood stardom. He was always fascinated with movies and even dreamt of one day working in Hollywood. However, he first decided to try a career in journalism. In his early 20s Johnston worked as a TV news reporter for the local ABC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska. Although Johnston liked his job in TV news journalism, his dream was to make movies. So, with that in mind, Johnston embarked on writing, directing and producing his first short film, 2004's "A Thousand Words." The experience of making his own film was a powerful one for Johnston, so he decided to continue writing screenplays and making movies. He made a couple more short films in the mid-2000s which got him attention, and by 2009 appeared on Variety's prestigious "10 Screenwriters To Watch" list. Johnston's first big budget writing credit came in 2011 with the dark comedy "Cedar Rapids" (2011). The following year he co-wrote the animated comedy "Wreck-It Ralph" (2012), which was a box office hit. In the years that followed Johnston wrote a few more screenplays that made it to the screen, including "Zootopia" (2016) and "The Brothers Grimsby" (2016). Then in 2018 he returned to the director's chair by co-writing and co-directing, along with Rich Moore, the sequel "Ralph Breaks the Internet." The film was a box office smash and also earned Johnston an Academy Award nomination for "Best Animated Film" at the 2019 Oscars. It was Phil Johnston's first Oscar nomination.