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Barry Sonnenfeld

Barry Sonnenfeld

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 1, 1953 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, director of photography, actor, producer, camera operator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most commercially successful director-producers of the 1990s, Barry Sonnenfeld experienced precipitous ups and downs in a lengthy career spanning both film and television. After cutting his teeth as a cinematographer for the likes of Joel and Ethan Coen on "Blood Simple" (1984) and "Raising Arizona" (1987), as well as Rob Reiner on "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) and "Misery" (1990), Sonnefeld made his directorial debut with the creepy comedy hit "The Addams Family" (1991). More box office success followed in the form of the crime-comedy "Get Shorty" (1995) and the blockbuster hit "Men in Black" (1997). Later efforts such as "Wild, Wild West" (1999) and "RV" (2006) proved disappointing, to say the least, although Sonnenfeld did have luck as a producer on films like Disney's "Enchanted" (2007) and the Emmy Award-winning fantasy series "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, 2007-09). After nearly six years away from the director's chair, he reteamed with Agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) once again for "Men in Black III" (2012), this time with its eye-popping special effects delivered in 3-D. Boasting a 30-year career populated with smashing triumphs and unmitigated disasters, few understood...

One of the most commercially successful director-producers of the 1990s, Barry Sonnenfeld experienced precipitous ups and downs in a lengthy career spanning both film and television. After cutting his teeth as a cinematographer for the likes of Joel and Ethan Coen on "Blood Simple" (1984) and "Raising Arizona" (1987), as well as Rob Reiner on "When Harry Met Sally" (1989) and "Misery" (1990), Sonnefeld made his directorial debut with the creepy comedy hit "The Addams Family" (1991). More box office success followed in the form of the crime-comedy "Get Shorty" (1995) and the blockbuster hit "Men in Black" (1997). Later efforts such as "Wild, Wild West" (1999) and "RV" (2006) proved disappointing, to say the least, although Sonnenfeld did have luck as a producer on films like Disney's "Enchanted" (2007) and the Emmy Award-winning fantasy series "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, 2007-09). After nearly six years away from the director's chair, he reteamed with Agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) once again for "Men in Black III" (2012), this time with its eye-popping special effects delivered in 3-D. Boasting a 30-year career populated with smashing triumphs and unmitigated disasters, few understood the Hollywood axiom of "You're only as good as your last picture," better than Sonnenfeld.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
3.
  RV (2006)
4.
  Men in Black II (2002) Director
5.
  Big Trouble (2002) Director
6.
  Wild Wild West (1999) Director
7.
  Men in Black (1997) Director
8.
  Get Shorty (1995) Director
9.
  For Love Or Money (1993) Director
10.
  Addams Family Values (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Men in Black III (2012)
2.
 RV (2006)
3.
 Big Trouble (2002) Confused Sports Radio Call In Voice
4.
 Men in Black II (2002) Neuralyzed Father
5.
 Get Shorty (1995) Doorman
6.
 Addams Family Values (1993) Mr Glicker
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in NYC's Washington Heights
:
After graduating from Hampshire College, worked in photo lab in New York
:
Claims to have served as cinematographer on at least nine pornographic films shot over a 22-day period
:
Shot corporate films and documentaries
1982:
Worked as cinematographer for the documentary "In Our Water," about water pollution in New Jersey (shown on PBS' "Frontline")
1984:
First feature as director of photography, Joel Coen's "Blood Simple"; first of a series of collaborations with the Coen brothers; also shot the trailer that enabled the Coens to raise money for the project
1984:
First TV credit as director of photography, the "ABC Afterschool Special" titled "Out of Step"
1985:
Shot first TV miniseries "Doubletake" (CBS)
1986:
Provided "additional projection camera" for Laurie Anderson's experimental concert film "Home of the Brave"
1986:
First TV-movie as cinematographer, "Welcome Home, Bobby" (CBS)
1987:
Reteamed with the Coens as cinematographer of "Raising Arizona"
1988:
First film with director Rob Reiner, "When Harry Met Sally..."
1990:
Last project to date with the Coens, "Miller's Crossing"
1990:
Second time as director of photography for Reiner, "Misery"
1991:
Directorial debut, "The Addams Family"
1993:
Feature producing debut (as co-producer), "For Love or Money"; also directed
1994:
Helmed sequel "Addams Family Values"
1995:
Signed two-year deal with Walt Disney Company; formed own eponymous production company
1995:
Directed the comedy "Get Shorty"; script by Scott Frank and based on a novel by Elmore Leonard; also played small role as Doorman
1997:
Helmed the summer blockbuster "Men in Black," starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones
1998:
Executive produced Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight; scripted by Frank and based on a novel by Elmore Leonard
1998:
Executive produced (also directed pilot) "Maximum Bob" (ABC), based on a novel by Leonard
1998:
Executive produced the ABC series remake "Fantasy Island"
1999:
Directed the feature version of the 1960s TV series "Wild Wild West," starring Will Smith; made came as an alien
1999:
Walked away uninjured when the Gulfstream II jet on which he was the lone passenger crash-landed at Van Nuys, CA airport
2000:
Co-executive produced "Secret Agent Man" (UPN)
2000:
In July, terminated film producing partnership with Barry Josephson; TV deal unaffected
2001:
Served as executive producer and occasional director of the Fox midseason replacement series "The Tick"
2002:
Helmed "Men in Black II," the sequel to the 1997 hit; again made cameo in film
2006:
Directed Robin Williams in the comedy "RV"
2007:
Produced (also directed) the ABC series "Pushing Daisies"
2012:
Returned to directing features with "Men in Black III"; re-teamed with stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones; also made cameo in film
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

High School of Music and Art: New York , New York -
New York University: New York , New York -
Hampshire College: Amherst , Massachusetts -
Eleanor Roosevelt Junior High School: New York , New York -
New York University: New York , New York - 1978

Notes

Sonnenfeld was the cinematographer on a commercial for Nike entitled "Dog" which won a 1989 Clio award.

"With the Coens, I used to throw up a lot. I threw up, like, 18 times on 'Blood Simple' from being nervous. Well, the first time was because I was filming Danny Hedaya vomiting after getting kicked in the groin by Fran McDormand. And I'm a sympathetic vomiter. If I see, smell or hear vomiting, I will vomit. So when Danny was vomiting, I was vomiting while operating the camera. On the second take, Joel suggested that the soundman point the microphone at me, because my vomiting sounded better than Hedaya's." --Barry Sonnenfeld, quoted in Time Out New York, June 26-July 3, 1997

About his relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) president of worldwide marketing Robert Levin: "Bob rings up and says, 'It has all worked out well. I just wanted to let you know that I feel very close to you because my middle name is Barry.' And I said: 'You know, Bob, that's so weird because my penis' name is Bob.' There was this long silence on the end of the phone line. Silence. Silence. Silence. Then Bob said, 'You know what Barry, I have just decided that your penis' name is Bob and not that you're telling me to go f**k myself.' We've got on fine ever since." --Sonnenfeld, quoted in Screen International, August 1, 1997

On his brush with death as passenger of a jet that crashed: "We were coming in for a landing, and we came down so late in the runway. It's almost a life-changing thing. You have enough time to scream. They were desperately looking for things to hit so they would slow down. That's when I got really scared. . . .

"I thought it was strangely calm until I saw the fuel pouring out of the plane and onto the engine. . . .

"No one was hurt, but I hope that someday the NTSB gives me back my suit jacket and my various pieces of luggage. . . .

"The weird thing is that I hate to fly, and the quote that I give people is that every time I get off a plane, I view it as a failed suicide attempt. The sad news for Warner and Disney is that I'm not going to take any of these rented jets." --Sonnenfeld to Dan Cox of Daily Variety, February 17, 1999

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Susan Ringo. Married c. 1989 during the wrap party for "Miller's Crossing" (1990) on a boat in the middle of the Mississippi River; played small role in "For Love or Money" (1993) and served as associate producer on "Get Shorty" (1995).

Family close complete family listing

father:
Sonny Sonnenfeld.
mother:
Kelly Sonnenfeld. Art teacher. Taught at Sonnenfeld's elementary school ("My mother took me to eat lunch with the teachers every day. I didn't eat with the other children until I was in the sixth grade").
step-daughter:
Sasha.
step-daughter:
Amy.
daughter:
Chloe Sonnenfeld. Born c. 1993.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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