Barry Sonnenfeld Poster


Jump to: Overview (1)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (6)  | Trivia (12)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (1)

Born in New York City, New York, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Barry Sonnenfeld was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from New York University Film School in 1978. He started work as director of photography on the Oscar-nominated In Our Water (1982). Then Joel Coen and Ethan Coen hired him for Blood Simple (1984). This film began his collaboration with the Coen Bros., who used him for their next two pictures, Raising Arizona (1987) and Miller's Crossing (1990). He also worked with Danny DeVito on his Throw Momma from the Train (1987) and Rob Reiner on When Harry Met Sally... (1989) and Misery (1990). Sonnenfeld got his first work as a director from Orion Pictures on The Addams Family (1991), a box-office success released in November 1991 followed by its sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). He received critical acclaim for his fourth directorial effort, Get Shorty (1995). Produced by Jersey Films and based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the film won a Golden Globe for best male performance. In 1996 Steven Spielberg asked him to direct Men in Black (1997). Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, the movie was a critical and financial smash. Producer Jon Peters then asked Sonnenfeld to direct Wild Wild West (1999), an adaptation of an old TV series. He also directed the comedy Big Trouble (2002), after which he made his most successful film sequel, Men in Black II (2002).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Alex Manca

Family (2)

Spouse Susan Ringo (1989 - present)  (1 child)
Children Chloe Sonnenfeld
Amelia A. Erwitt (stepchild)

Trade Mark (6)

Directs mainstream films that have an offbeat quality to them
Frequently casts Siobhan Fallon Hogan
Often shoots from below eye-level for comic effect
Often casts Carel Struycken in his films
Known for his sense of physical comedy and slapstick scenes
Large opening credits that combine his handwriting and a thin chalk drawn font that pays homage to Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Trivia (12)

Was uninjured when a private jet he was travelling in collided with five empty 'planes after a rough landing in Van Nuys, California. [February 1999]
Started his career as a cinematographer in porn films. He's quoted in the January 26, 1998 Newsweek magazine (page 60) saying that he was depressed when he heard that Boogie Nights (1997) was being made (a film about making pornos) because he had wanted to make a movie about the time he shot 9 feature length pornos in nine days.
NYU Film School Assistant to Elliott Erwitt.
Was offered the job of directing Forrest Gump (1994), but declined. The job then went to Robert Zemeckis, who won an Academy Award for it.
Has a private bathroom designed to look like a public bathroom, complete with stalls and urinals in his house in New York.
One of his most embarrassing moments occurred at the age of 16 on January 29, 1970, while he was attending his first concert, the Winter Festival for Peace at Madison Square Garden. His mother had the PA announcer say, "Barry Sonnenfeld. Call your mother," which he found out was because he was twenty minutes past his 2:00 am curfew. He used the line as the title of his 2020 memoir.
Nephew of Vaudeville and screen comedian Gus Schilling, whose voice likeness he inherited genetically.
Father of Chloe Sonnenfeld.
Has stated in many interviews that before making Men in Black (1997) he was considering doing a live-action film version of The Jetsons (1962). With Jim Carrey playing George Jetson and Nicole Kidman playing Jane Jetson.
Was set to direct Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), but bowed out citing personal reasons.
Was at one time attached to direct The Heartbreak Kid (2007).
Stepfather of Amelia A. Erwitt (born in 1981).

Personal Quotes (4)

About Men in Black (1997): "It's basically a remake of The French Connection (1971) with aliens as a comedy."
A director sits on the set 11 and a half hours a day. And for 30 minutes they get to direct.
[on what he took away from each "Men in Black" film] - The first one was unique because it was the first one in the series and we got to create this world. What we realized in the second movie is that we thought the first movie was a comedy, and we realized that it was funny, but not a comedy. And the second one was too, "funny" or "joke-y," and we were trying for comic-beats as apposed to telling a great story. And the third Men in Black, we went back to the roots and it's much more like the first Men in Black, which is that it's really about emotion, character, and relationships. And if it's funny, it's funny because of those things, but we're not cutting to singing dogs.
[on directing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones] Although Will would always be deferential and charming he's an eight-month-old Great Dane puppy, and he's got way too much energy, way too much joy, too much karmic perfection. And I think that may have affected Tommy. But from the entire first movie [they] loved each other. Will genuinely feels Tommy's one of the funniest people he's ever met because Tommy is George Burns and Will is Gracie Allen. You need both.

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