W hen the night of the Oscars finally came, Big Hero 6 director Chris Williams was fully expecting to congratulate his best friend and fellow director, Dean DeBlois, for winning the academy award for How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Instead, Chris and his entire family got a shock that quickly turned to ebullient excitement when Williams’ name was announced, and his mom couldn’t be more proud.
“I was at home,” said Betty Williams, who lives in downtown Sidney.
“That exact moment, there was a friend banging on the door and the phone was ringing.”
“It was very exciting news!”
Chris’s younger brother and his family were in Vancouver, dressed to the nines in tux and evening wear in their living room — including their three-year-old twins — having an Oscar party of their own as Chris took the stage to accept his award.
“They’re very close,” said Betty of her two sons.
The predilection for the arts runs in the family, she added.
Betty herself has a fine arts degree and Chris’s father always had an interest in art.
“He worked alongside Chris when was little, drawing comic books and such,” she said.
“(Chris) has been interested in art since he was three years old. He never left the kitchen table,” added Betty. “It’s the only natural thing for him to be doing.”
Betty said she encouraged Chris years ago to look into the animation program at Sheridan College, a prestigious school with a high number of grads going on to work at Disney and Dreamworks.
“They had a program designed for people like him, who already have a degree and a strong portfolio,” said Betty.
Disney saw his talent immediately and snapped Chris up from the program in his second summer.
Oscar win aside, Chris’s talents go far beyond directing; he has also worked as a writer, producer, actor, story artist and story supervisor.
“He’s had his fingerprints on every Disney movie since The Lion King,” said Betty.
Chris’s win with co-director Don Hall has certainly elevated his name in the film industry, but he’d already gained notoriety for his voice acting skills, if only through his character’s name.
Chris wrote and voiced the part of Oaken in Disney’s Frozen, whose ‘Yoohoo, big summer blowout’ line virtually exploded onto the internet and became one of the movie’s most quoted lines.
“That’s Chris,” said his mom. “He can keep people laughing.”
“He had to have a Norwegian accent, and his mother-in-law is actually right from Norway,” continued Betty with a laugh, “and she says it’s not quite right.”
Chris and the rest of the Big Hero 6 team are still busy rolling out the movie in other international markets, but it’ll soon be back to work for the award-winning director, creating new and ever more enticing worlds for moviegoers.
That streak of creativity seems to have been passed along to Chris’s own four-year-old son, added Betty, who said her grandson’s vivid imagination reminds her of Chris.
“He always had a wild imagination and was very funny,” she said. “Disney is the perfect place for him!”