Spike Jonze
Birth Date:
October 22, 1969
Birth Place:
Rockville, Maryland, USA
Famous for:
Producer of 'Being John Malkovich'
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Being John Malkovich


Director, producer, writer and actor Spike Jonze has worked in film, television, music videos and commercials. He is best recognized for directing the feature film “Being John Malkovich” (1999), for which he received an Oscar nomination and an Independent Spirit Award, to name a few awards and nominations. He also directed the 2002 film “Adaptation” and the 2009 film “Where the Wild Things Are.” He shared an Independent Spirit Award for producing “Synecdoche, New York” (2009), the feature directorial debut of screenwriter and frequent collaborator Charlie Kaufman. On the small screen, Jonze is perhaps best known as the co-creator and executive producer of the controversial cult hit “Jackass” (MTV, 2000-2002). Prior to making his auspicious debut with “Being John Malkovich,” the former magazine editor made a name for himself as an accomplished music video director thanks to his work on Beastie Boys' “Sabotage,” Weezer's “Buddy Holly” and Fatboy Slim's “Praise You.” Jonze is also an entrepreneur and co-owns Girl Skateboards with Rick Howard and Mike Carroll.

Jonze was married to actress, writer, producer and director Sofia Coppola from 1999 to 2003. He has been romantically linked to Karen O, the lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Michelle Williams (together from July 2008 to September 2009) and Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi.

Adam Spiegel

Childhood and Family:

Spike Jonze was born Adam Spiegel on October 22, 1969, in Rockville, Maryland, to Arthur Spiegel III, the founder of the international health care consulting firm APM Management Consultants, and Sandy Granzow, a communications consultant in developing countries and author of “Our Dream: A World Free of Poverty.” His parents later divorced and his mother raised Spike and his younger brother, Sam. Spike attended Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, where he met Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman. A BMX freestyle rider in his youth, he fronted Club Homeboy, an international BMX club, with Jenkins and Lewman.

On June 26, 1999, Spike married multi-talented celebrity Sofia Coppola. The couple divorced on December 9, 2003.

Where the Wild Things Are


Spike Jonze decided to skip college and moved to Los Angeles to work as an editorial assistant and photographer for the popular BMX magazine “Freestylin',” where his friends Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman were the publishers. Before long, he began shooting photos for the publications “BMX Action” and the short lived “Homeboy.” In 1991, he launched “Dirt” with Jenkins and Lewman, a magazine for teenaged boys. Although “Dirt” did not last long, Jonze rebounded in 1993 by founding the Girl Distribution Company, a skateboarding distribution company, with skaters Rick Howard and Mike Carroll.

Jonze's career in the world of music videos began in 1992 when he co-directed Sonic Youth's “100%,” with Tamra Davis. He then co-directed The Breeders' hit “Cannonball,” with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, X's “Country at War,” Luscious Jackson's “Daughters of the Kaos,” Teenage Fanclub's “Hang On” and Beastie Boys' “Time for Livin'” (all 1993), but did not experience a breakthrough success as a video music director until he was reunited with the group Beastie Boys for the video “Sabotage.” He also directed the videos for “Ricky's Theme” and “Sure Shot.” Jonze gained further attention in 1994 thanks to his work on Weezer's “Buddy Holly,” which won awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. He was reunited with Weezer for the video of “Undone - The Sweater Song” (also 1994). Jonze's other video music directing credits included “All About Eve” (Marxman), “Ditch Digger” (Rocket from the Crypt), “Divine Hammer” (The Breeders), “Feel the Pain” (Dinosaur Jr.), “I Can't Stop Smiling” (Velocity Girl) and “If I Only Had a Brain” (MC 900 Ft. Jesus). From the mid to late 1990s, Jonze went on to direct a number of music videos for artists like Wax (“California” and “Who Is Next”), Elastica (“Car Song”), R.E.M. (“Crush with Eyeliner” and “Electrolite”), Ween (“Freedom of '76”), Björk (“It's Oh So Quiet”), Sonic Youth (“The Diamond Sea”), The Pharcyde (“Drop”), Daft Punk (“Da Funk”), The Chemical Brothers (“Elektrobank”), Puff Daddy (“It's All About the Benjamins” (Rock Remix), Mike Watt (“Liberty Calls”), Pavement (“Shady Lane”), The Notorious B.I.G. (“Sky's the Limit”), Sean Lennon (“Home”) and Fatboy Slim (“Praise You”).

Jonze made his debut as an actor in 1993 when he landed a bit part in “Mi vida loca” (1993), a drama written and directed by Allison Anders. After starring in the 1996 short film “Pig!,” which was directed and written by Francine McDougall, he returned to features with a small part in the David Fincher directed drama “The Game” (1997), which starred Michael Douglas. He then appeared with George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube in David O Russell's movie “Three Kings” (1999), where he was cast as Conrad Vig, a role written for him by Russell.

Despite a promising start as an actor, Jonze went to work as a director. In 1994, he helmed Zoe R. Cassavetes, Mike D and future wife Sofia Coppola in the video short “Ciao L.A.,” and with Roman Coppola and Dewey Hicks, directed segments of the short lived lifestyle series “Hi-Octane” (Comedy Central), which was produced and written by and starred Sofia. He then created the short-lived CBS sitcom “Double Rush” (1995), directed, wrote and produced the comedy short “Las Nueve Vidas de Paco” (1995) and served as a cinematographer on “Bed, Bath and Beyond” (1996), a comedy short co-directed by Ione Skye, Sofia Coppola and Andrew Durham. He next directed and co-wrote the short comedy “How They Get There” (1997), directed the documentary short “Amarillo By Morning” (1998), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and directed, choreographed and starred in “Torrance Rises” (1999).

Two years after signing a deal with Propaganda Films, Jonze made his feature directorial debut with “Being John Malkovich” (1999), a comedy that starred John Malkovich, John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Keener), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Charlie Kaufman), and Best Director, for Jonze. Jonze also won a Critics Award and Grand Special Prize at the 1999 Deauville Film Festival, a FIPRESCI Prize and Future Film Festival Digital Award - Special Mention at the 1999 Venice Film Festival, the Critics Choice Award for Breakthrough Artist at the 2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, and a Chlotrudis Award for Best Director, to name a few honors.

Entering the new millennium, Jonze ventured into series television as the co-creator, writer, performer and executive producer of the popular stunt and prank show “Jackass,” which appeared on MTV from October 1, 2000, to February 17, 2002. The show produced a triumphant theatrical spin-off called “Jackass: The Movie” (2002), which Jonze produced. “Jackass Number Two,” a sequel of the film, was released in 2006. He also directed Fatboy Slim's “Weapon of Choice,” Fatlip's “What's Up, Fatlip” and Tenacious D's “Wonderboy” videos.

In 2001, Jonze returned to the big screen when he produced the comedy “Human Nature,” from a script by Charlie Kaufman. He shared a High Hopes Award at the Munich Film Festival for his work on the film. Jonze was reunited with Kaufman for “Adaptation” (2002). Starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Tilda Swinton and Brian Cox, the dramatic comedy was a critical and commercial success and nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Actor in a Supporting Role (won), Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay.

Jonze next directed the music video of Beck's “Guess I'm Doing Fine,” Björk's “It's in Our Hands” and Weezer's “Island in the Sun” (version 2, all 2002). He went on to helm Phantom Planet's “Big Brat” (2003), Ludacris' “Get Back” (2004), Yeah Yeah Yeahs' “Y Control” (2004), Björk's “Triumph of a Heart” (2005) and Kanye West's “Flashing Lights” (2008). He also co-directed UNKLE's music video “Heaven” (2009), with Ty Evans, and AsDSSka's “25” (also 2009), with Crysal Moselle. In 2008, Jonze produced “Synecdoche, New York,” the feature directorial debut of Charlie Kaufman. The drama, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton and Michelle Williams, brought the two an Independent Spirit award for Best First Feature, which was shared with Anthony Bregman and Sidney Kimmel.

In 2009, Jonze directed and wrote the short film “We Were Once a Fairytale,” starring Kanye West. He did not return to the big screen as a director until he helmed the live action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's book “Where the Wild Things Are” (2009), which he also co-scripted with Dave Eggers. The film earned primarily favorable reviews from critics and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score - Motion Picture. Jonze received a Saturn nomination for Best Writing, an Online Film Critics Society nomination for Best Screenplay, Adapted, and Chicago Film Critics Association nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay, Adapted for his work on the film.

Recently, in 2010, Jonze co-directed the LCD Soundsystem music video “Drunk Girls,” with James Murphy. He also directed Arcade Fire's “The Suburbs” and produced “Jackass 3D,” the third movie in the “Jackass” film franchise. He then wrote and directed the short film “I'm Here” and guest starred in the TV series “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.” He also directed the video short “Vampire Attack,” executive produced the documentary short “The Lazarus Effect” and produced the video short “Higglety Pigglety Pop or There Must Be More to Life.”


  • Independent Spirit: Best First Feature, “Synecdoche, New York,” 2009

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Jury Grand Prix, “Adaptation,” 2003

  • Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA): Best Director, “Adaptation,” 2002

  • Munich Film Festival: High Hopes Award, “Human Nature,” 2002

  • London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, Director of the Year, “Being John Malkovich,” 2001

  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Critics Choice Award, Breakthrough Artist, “Being John Malkovich” and “Three Kings,” 2000

  • Chlotrudis: Best Director, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC): Newcomer of the Year, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • Independent Spirit: Best First Feature - Over $500,000, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Sierra Award, Best Newcomer, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • MTV Movie: Best New Filmmaker, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): Best Debut, “Being John Malkovich,” 2000

  • Deauville Film Festival: Critics Award, “Being John Malkovich,” 1999

  • Deauville Film Festival: Grand Special Prize, “Being John Malkovich,” 1999

  • New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best First Film, “Being John Malkovich,” 1999

  • Venice Film Festival: FIPRESCI Prize, Parallel Sections, “Being John Malkovich,” 1999

  • Venice Film Festival: Future Film Festival Digital Award - Special Mention, “Being John Malkovich,” 1999

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