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Spike Jonze

Spike Jonze

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Also Known As: Richard Koufay, Adam Spiegel Died:
Born: October 22, 1969 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Rockville, Maryland, USA Profession: actor, director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter, photographer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Throughout his varied career, Spike Jonze quickly established himself as a director whose remarkable vision and prolific output led to creating some of the most memorable films and music videos of his day. Jonze started off as a music video director credited with popular takes on the Beastie Boy's "Sabotage" (1994) and Weezer's "Buddy Holly" (1994), which deftly incorporated a "Happy Days" theme and actual show footage. While keeping his feet firmly planted in the music video world, he ventured into feature films; first as an actor in "The Game" (1997) and "Three Kings" (1999), then as a director with the strikingly original "Being John Malkovich" (1999), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Taking a turn toward the outrageous, he helped create the cult favorite, "Jackass" (MTV, 2000-02), which earned public condemnation for its depiction of dangerous, but hilarious stunts. Returning to narrative filmmaking, Jonze helmed the inspired "Adaptation" (2002), a wildly original, offbeat and entertaining dramedy that confirmed Jonze as a truly visionary filmmaker worthy of the highest accolades.Born on Oct. 22, 1969 in Rockville, MD, Jonze was raised in Bethesda by his father,...

Throughout his varied career, Spike Jonze quickly established himself as a director whose remarkable vision and prolific output led to creating some of the most memorable films and music videos of his day. Jonze started off as a music video director credited with popular takes on the Beastie Boy's "Sabotage" (1994) and Weezer's "Buddy Holly" (1994), which deftly incorporated a "Happy Days" theme and actual show footage. While keeping his feet firmly planted in the music video world, he ventured into feature films; first as an actor in "The Game" (1997) and "Three Kings" (1999), then as a director with the strikingly original "Being John Malkovich" (1999), which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Taking a turn toward the outrageous, he helped create the cult favorite, "Jackass" (MTV, 2000-02), which earned public condemnation for its depiction of dangerous, but hilarious stunts. Returning to narrative filmmaking, Jonze helmed the inspired "Adaptation" (2002), a wildly original, offbeat and entertaining dramedy that confirmed Jonze as a truly visionary filmmaker worthy of the highest accolades.

Born on Oct. 22, 1969 in Rockville, MD, Jonze was raised in Bethesda by his father, Arthur Spiegel III, founder of the international health care consulting firm, APM Management Consultants, and his mother, Sandy Granzow, a communications consultant in developing countries and author of Our Dream: A World Free of Poverty. While attending Walt Whitman High School, Jonze met Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman, the publishers of the popular BMX magazine, Freestylin'. An avid motocross enthusiast, he moved to Los Angeles to take up an editorial assistant job at Freestylin', where he also honed his skills as a photographer and became known for his breakthrough action photography of skateboarders. In 1991, following stints shooting photos for BMX Action and the short-lived Homeboy, Jonze launched Dirt with Jenkins and Lewman, a semi-subversive lifestyle magazine aimed at teenage boys. Though the magazine failed to last long, the young entrepreneur continued undaunted, joining forces with professional skateboarders Rick Howard and Mike Carroll for the Girl Skateboard Company, which primarily endorsed skateboard decks, but also sold all manner of boarding merchandise.

In 1992, Jonze entered the music video world as the co-director of Sonic Youth's "100%," on which he shot raw skateboard footage that was intercut into the video by co-director Tamra Davis. He went on to work with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon as co-directors of the music video for The Breeders' hit, "Cannonball," which featured a rolling cannonball that seemed to follow the camera. Through Davis â¿¿ the wife of Beastie Boys' Mike D â¿¿ Jonze met up with the hip hop band to direct their seminal video, "Sabotage" (1994), which proved to be a breakthrough for the director. Mimicking the open credit sequences from 1970s cop shows, Jonze dressed the Beasties in campy polyester suits, aviator shades and fake wigs while utilizing whip pans, rack focusing and freeze frames to show them running down various bad guys throughout Los Angeles. The song was a big hit for the Beasties, thanks in large part to the music video receiving heavy play on MTV. Also that year, he worked with the Beastie Boys on their videos for "Sure Shot" and "Ricky's Theme." Jonze also collaborated with Weezer on "Undone (The Sweater Song)," a visually arresting, one-take experimental video, filmed with a specialized camera used by Alfred Hitchcock in "Rope" (1948).

Jonze reunited with Weezer to direct the acclaimed video for their single "Buddy Holly" (1994). Dressing the band as clean-cut 1950s teen idols, Jonze placed them onstage at the famed "Happy Days" hangout, Arnold's Drive-In, and cut actual footage from the series in with shots of Weezer playing onstage. The off-the-wall marriage of current music with nostalgia television made the well-executed video one of the most talked about entries in the medium, helping to make the song an instant hit. "Buddy Holly" walked away with four MTV Video Music Awards in 1995, including one for Jonze in the Best Direction category. He continued to raise the music video bar with conceptually interesting and visually appealing work, like Björk's Hollywood musical-inspired "It's Oh So Quiet" (1995) and R.E.M.'s karaoke-like "Crush with Eyeliner" (1995), starring Japanese youth posing as the band. Jonze did away with the idea that music videos must be a quick changing collage to grab the viewer's short attention span; instead replacing it with a one-image video, as he did in Wax's "California" (1995) which included slow-motion footage of a running man on fire.

In 1997, Jonze directed a less stylized and more narrative music video for Daft Punk's "Da Funk," which followed an anthropomorphic dog through the city streets, as he looks for friends while totting a ghetto blaster that plays the song. That same year, he made the senior prom-set "It's All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)," wherein Puff Daddy's energetic performance incites sleepwalking students to liven up the dance and wreak havoc on the school. Jonze again broke new ground directing the video for Fatboy Slim's dance track "Praise You" (1998). He also played the choreographer for the fictional Torrance Community Dance Group, a troupe that put on a show in front of a movie theater. Shot like an amateur tourist home video, the music video featured a real audience that had gathered and ended with an unscripted moment when the theater manager angrily turned off the music. In addition to his vast body of impressive music video work, Jonze counted among his credits memorable television commercials for Lee Jeans, including "Twister," which starred Buddy Lee, Man of Action, heroically braving a tornado to save a kitten. He also used an operating room set for his spot for Levi's Wide Leg Jeans, which was scored with the 1980s electro-pop hit, "Tainted Love."

Turning to the occasional acting gig, Jonze made his big screen debut with a bit part in Allison Anders' "Mi Vida Loca ("My Crazy Life") (1993). Following a cameo role as an EMT in the Michael Douglas feature "The Game" (1997), he landed his first featured role as the goofy Desert Storm soldier Conrad Vig in David O Russell's action-packed dark comedy, "Three Kings" (1999). While the affable Jonze proved more than capable as a performer, he instead chose to make his mark in features as a director. Before landing on the big screen, Jonze directed segments of the short-lived series "Hi-Octane" (Comedy Central, 1994) starring, produced by and written by future wife Sofia Coppola. Additionally, he created the frenetic title sequence to the short-lived sitcom "Double Rush" (CBS, 1995) and worked extensively in shorts, from his early 1990s skateboard video art to "Las Nueve Vidas de Paco ("The Chocolate Movie") (1995). Along with Roman Coppola, he was co-cinematographer of the short "Bed, Bath and Beyond" (1996), directed by Sofia Coppola, Ione Skye and Andrew Durham. In 1998, Jonze's documentary short "Amarillo By Morning" screened at Sundance Film Festival.

That same year, his work as cinematographer for the concert film of the 1996 Tibetan Freedom Festival entitled "Free Tibet" played on screens. Following an aborted attempt at directing the film adaptation of the beloved children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon, Jonze landed a development and production deal with Propaganda Films in 1997. He soon made an auspicious feature debut with "Being John Malkovich" (1999), an appropriately quirky fantasy about a struggling puppeteer and office drone (John Cusack) who discovers a room in his half-sized office building that allows anyone to spend 15 minutes inside John Malkovich's head. Soon, the puppeteer and his object of desire (Catherine Keener) run an afterhours business charging a fee for their customer's 15 minutes, which eventually includes Malkovich himself after he discovers their scheme. Despite the loopy and abstract concept â¿¿ not to mention the hilariously bizarre scene where Malkovich enters his own head â¿¿ the film quickly created a remarkable advance buzz and was supported by rave reviews after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Jonze was nominated for several critics and industry awards, including an Academy Award nod for Best Director.

Trading on his long-standing relationship with MTV, Jonze made a foray into series television as the co-creator, writer, performer and executive producer of the controversial cult hit "Jackass" (MTV, 2000-02), which featured an edgy troupe of fearless street stunt artists led by Johnny Knoxville, who engage in all manner of risky real-life adventures â¿¿ the more stupid, painful and disgusting, the better. While it took flack for purportedly inspiring teenagers to mimic its stunts with disastrous and occasionally deadly results, "Jackass" quickly became the music television network's most popular show, while making a Hollywood star out of Knoxville and spawning a successful theatrical spin-off, "Jackass: The Movie" (2002). On the big screen, Jonze continued to cultivate a close relationship with screenwriter Kaufman, producing his script "Human Nature" (2001), a quirky and fantastical dramedy of manners starring Tim Robbins and Patricia Arquette that failed to mimic the charm and success of "Malkovich."

The following year, Jonze and Kaufman joined forces again for the remarkable reality-bending "Adaptation" (2002), which featured Nicolas Cage as Kaufman himself as the central character, a timid, anxiety-ridden screenwriter struggling to adapt author Susan Orlean's best-selling novel The Orchid Thief into a motion picture. Inspired, loopy and unabashedly eccentric, "Adaptation" was a work of extreme originality, flip-flopping between fact, fiction and fantasy while depicting both Kaufman's angst-ridden life and major plot elements from the book by Orleans (Meryl Streep), which chronicled her encounters with real-life Miami orchid thief John Laroche (Chris Cooper). Once again, Jonze was honored for his work with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director. Meanwhile, though he had ventured into film, Jonze continued directing music videos, including "Get Back" (2004) for Ludacris, "Triumph of a Heart" (2005) for Björk and "Flashing Lights" (2008) for Kanye West. After serving as the producer of "The Fall" and Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, "Synecdoche, New York" (2008), Jonze wrote and directed his adaptation of the long-beloved children's novel, "Where the Wild Things Are" (2009), which greatly expanded the book's world through the use of live action combined with CGI and animatronics.

In 2010, Jonze wrote and directed the short film "I'm Here," which focuses on a good-natured robot voiced by Andrew Garfield, and the following year he helmed another compact productionâ¿¿a collaboration with the indie-rock act Arcade Fire called "Scenes from the Suburbs." "Her," Jonze's fourth full-length feature, premiered in 2013, with Joaquin Phoenix portraying a man who falls in love with the talking operating system on his phone (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). His script for the film was roundly acclaimed, winning a Golden Globe, a Writers Guild of America award and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Returning to screen appearances, Jonze turned up in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013) and the "Jackass"-affiliated "Bad Grandpa" (2013), which he co-produced. He also rounded out the year by helming the first-ever "YouTube Music Awards," transforming the show into a series of live music videos by various acts, including Arcade Fire.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Her (2013)
3.
  Adaptation. (2002) Director
4.
  Being John Malkovich (1999) Director
5.
  Amarillo by Morning (1997) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Her (2013)
4.
 Jackass 3D (2010)
5.
6.
 jackass: the movie (2002) Himself
7.
 Three Kings (1999) Private Conrad Vig
8.
 Game, The (1997) Airbag Emt Beltran
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Bethesda, Maryland
:
While in high school, met Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman, publishers of <i>Freestylin'</i>, a popular BMX magazine
:
Moved to Los Angeles and joined the <i>Freestylin'</i> team as an editorial assistant
:
Began shooting photos for the publications <i>BMX Action</i> and the short-lived <i>Homeboy</i>
1991:
Launched <i>Dirt</i> (with Jenkins and Lewman), a failed, somewhat subversive magazine geared towards teen-aged boys
:
Founded the company Girl Skateboards (with skaters Rick Howard and Mike Carroll)
1992:
Music video debut, co-directed Sonic Youth's "100%" with Tamra Davis
1993:
Had a bit part in Allison Anders' "Mi Vida Loca"
1993:
Directed The Red Balloon inspired video for The Breeders' "Cannonball" with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon
1994:
Directed the popular 1970s cop show inspired music video "Sabotage" for the Beastie Boys
1994:
Re-teamed with the Beastie Boys to direct "Sure Shot"
1994:
Filmed the award-winning video "Buddy Holly" for Weezer in the middle of an actual scene from the 1950s-set sitcom "Happy Days"
1994:
With Roman Coppola and Dewey Hicks, directed segments of the short-lived lifestyle series "Hi-Octane" (Comedy Central)
1995:
Created the frenetic main title sequence for the short lived CBS sitcom "Double Rush"
1995:
Produced, directed and wrote the screenplay for the comedy short "Las Nueve Vidas de Paco"
1996:
Was the cinematographer (with Roman Coppola) for "Bed, Bath and Beyond," a comedy short co-directed by Ione Skye, Sofia Coppola, and Andrew Durham
1997:
Signed a first-look develpoment and production deal with Propaganda Films for features and TV
1997:
Directed the high school prom-set video for Puff Daddy's "It's All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)"
1998:
Screened his documentary short "Amarillo by Morning" at the Sundance Film Festival
1998:
Co-directed (with Roman Coppola) the music video for Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" (also starred under the pseudonym Richard Koufey)
1999:
Co-starred with George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg in David O Russell's adventure film "Three Kings"
1999:
Made directorial debut with "Being John Malkovich" starring John Cusack and Cameron Diaz; scripted by Charlie Kaufman; nominated for a Best Director Academy Award and received a nomination from the Directors Guild of America
2000:
Directed a 13-minute documentary about US presidential candidate Al Gore for the Democratic National Convention (was not available for broadcast until 2006)
2000:
Created and executive produced the MTV series "Jackass"
2001:
Helmed the popular music video "Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim and featured actor, Christopher Walken
2001:
Produced the film "Human Nature" from a Charlie Kaufman screenplay
2002:
Produced "Jackass: The Movie" with Johnny Knoxville; also credited as writer
2002:
Re-teamed with screenwriter Kaufman for "Adaptation"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director
2006:
Re-teamed with Knoxville to produce "Jackass: Number Two"
2008:
Produced the directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman, "Synecdoche, New York"
2009:
Directed the live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are"
2010:
Once again teamed with Johnny Knoxville to co-produce "Jackass 3D"
2010:
Wrote and directed the short "I'm Here"
2013:
Helmed the first "YouTube Music Awards"
2013:
Debuted his fourth feature, "Her"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Walt Whitman High School: Bethesda , Maryland -

Notes

Spike Jonze had been set to direct the film adaptation of "Harold & the Purple Crayon", scripted by David O Russell. When the studio pulled the plug on the project, Russell wrote the role of Private Conrad Vig in "Three Kings" especially for Jonze.

Jonze, displaying his notoriously skewed sense of humor, explains why he was offered the job of directing "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (which he turned down): "My stepdad sells juicers to a lot of people in Hollywood and he knew Jim Carrey through his juicing connection. In Hollywood all the big deals are made through juicing." --quoted in Entertainment Weekly, March 17, 1995.

Director Tamra Davis on the possibility of Jonze going Hollywood: "With him there's the Adam Spiegel side - the businessman, and then there's the Spike side. When Adam Spiegel says make a movie, Spike will probably do it." --quoted in Details, March 1995.

Jonze refuting Details' R.J. Smith's allegations that the director's alter ego is Adam Spiegel, heir to the famed catalog company: "'No! There is no Spiegel thing!' he insists. 'It's all a lie, a product of excellent PR.

'This is my father,' he says, grabbing a CD off a table. 'He's a musician named Wesley Willis.' Spike throws on the CD; a middle-aged black man raves over a cheesy beat. A big smile crosses Spike's face, and he says apologetically, 'He's very eccentric.'"

"I just told the crew that this was my fourth movie and they were more comfortable." --Jonze on why things went smoothly on his feature directorial debut "Being John Malkovich", quoted in Rolling Stone, August 19, 1999.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Karen O. Musician, singer. Member of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs'.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Arthur Spiegel III. Consultant. Divorced from Jonze's mother; operated an international health-care consulting firm.
mother:
Sandy Granzow. Publicist. Divorced from Jonze's father; raised her boys as a single mother.
brother:
Sam Spiegel. Younger.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Skateboarding - The Ultimate Guide to Tricks, Ramps, Gear, Setting Up - And Letting Go!"

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