The Info List - Barry Sonnenfeld

Barry Sonnenfeld (born April 1, 1953) is an American filmmaker and television director. He worked as cinematographer for the Coen brothers, then later he directed films such as The Addams Family and its sequel, Addams Family Values along with the Men in Black trilogy, and the critically acclaimed Get Shorty. Sonnenfeld has also had four collaborations with Will Smith.

Early life

Sonnenfeld was born and raised in New York City, the son of Irene "Kelly" (Kellerman), an art teacher, and Sonny Sonnenfeld, a lighting salesman, educator, and architectural lighting designer.[1][2][3] He was raised in a Jewish family.[4] After he received his bachelor's degree from Hampshire College, he graduated from New York University of Film School in 1978.


He began working on pornographic films, before starting 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 brothers, who used him for their next two pictures, Raising Arizona (1987) and Miller's Crossing (1990). He also worked with Danny DeVito on Throw Momma from the Train (1987) and Rob Reiner on When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Misery (1990).

Sonnenfeld gained his first work as a director from Paramount Pictures on The Addams Family, a box-office success released in November 1991. Its sequel, Addams Family Values (1993), was not as successful at the box office, but he received critical acclaim for his fourth directorial outing, Get Shorty (1995). Produced by Jersey Films and based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, the film won a Golden Globe for John Travolta (Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical). The film was also entered into the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.[5] Following Tim Burton and the Coen Brothers, Sonnenfeld would tell stories about unusual, unorthodox people who are into the unexpected and the strange. He would use as his trademarks unusual camera angles, offbeat dialogue, and in certain films, strange behavior and weird creatures.

In 1996, Steven Spielberg asked him to direct Men in Black (1997). Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, the film 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. Wild Wild West was an expensive disappointment.[citation needed] He also directed the comedy Big Trouble (2002), after which he made his most successful film sequel to that point, Men in Black II (2002). He is also a contributing editor for Esquire. He also co-produced the 2007 film Enchanted for Disney that starred Amy Adams. In 2008, Sonnenfeld earned an Emmy for directing Pushing Daisies. On April 21, 2010, it was announced that Sonnenfeld intended to return for Men in Black 3.[6] The film, released in 2012 worldwide, received good reviews and became the highest grossing in the series.

Personal life

He lives in New York City with his wife Susan and their daughter Chloe.


Year Title Type Director Producer Executive Producer Cinematographer
1982 In Our Water Documentary Yes
1983 How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days TV Movie Yes
1984 ABC Afterschool Specials TV Series Yes
1984 Blood Simple. Film Yes
1985 Compromising Positions Film Yes
1985 Doubletake TV Mini-Series Yes
1986 Classified Love TV Movie Yes
1986 Welcome Home, Bobby TV Movie Yes
1987 Raising Arizona Film Yes
1987 Three O'Clock High Film Yes
1987 Throw Momma from the Train Film Yes
1988 Big Film Yes
1989 When Harry Met Sally... Film Yes
1990 Miller's Crossing Film Yes
1990 Misery Film Yes
1991 The Addams Family Film Yes
1993 Addams Family Values Film Yes
1993 For Love or Money Film Yes
1995 Get Shorty Film Yes Yes
1997 Men in Black Film Yes
1998 Maximum Bob TV Series Yes Yes
1998 Out of Sight Film Yes
1999 Fantasy Island TV Series Yes
1999 Partners TV Movie Yes
1999 Wild Wild West Film Yes Yes
2000 Secret Agent Man TV Series Yes
2000 The Crew Film Yes
2002 Big Trouble Film Yes Yes
2002 Men in Black II Film Yes
2002 The Tick TV Series Yes Yes
2004 A Series of Unfortunate Events Film Yes
2004 Karen Sisco TV Series Yes
2004 The Ladykillers Film Yes
2006 RV Film Yes
2007 Enchanted Film Yes
2008 Hackett TV Movie Yes
2008 Notes from the Underbelly TV Series Yes Yes
2008 Play or Be Played TV Movie Yes Yes
2008 Space Chimps Film Yes
2008 Suburban Shootout TV Series Yes
2009 Pushing Daisies TV Series Yes Yes
2009 The Bridget Show TV Movie Yes
2010 Funny in Farsi TV Series Yes
2012 Men in Black 3 Film Yes
2013 Beverly Hills Cop TV Movie Yes
2014 An Honest Liar Documentary Yes
2014 Dead Boss TV Movie Yes
2016 Independent Lens TV Series Yes
2016 Nine Lives Film Yes
2017 The Tick TV Series Yes
2018 A Series of Unfortunate Events TV Series Yes Yes

Future projects

He is working on new projects, among them include Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30: a single-camera comedy from executive producer/director Sonnenfeld, the Tannenbaum Company and Sony Pictures Television. The project mostly is based on the personal experiences of Esquire writer David Katz and Esquire editor at large A. J. Jacobs. The show is about a man working at a men's magazine who is reluctant to embrace adulthood and his friend who is an immersion journalist. Al Higgins (Malcolm in the Middle) is set to serve as showrunner/head writer if the project is picked up.[7]

He has become attached to a movie adaptation of The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz, about a family of private investigators.[8] Sonnenfeld will direct the movie adaptation of the fantasy novel Gil's All Fright Diner in partnership with DreamWorks Animation.[9] He is also developing a sitcom for ABC, Funny in Farsi, based on the book of the same name.[10]

In 2012, it was stated that he was appointed to direct Lore, an adaptation based on the comic by T.P. Louise and Ashley Wood of the same name.[11][12] But, in 2013, Indie director Dave Green has signed on to replace Barry Sonnenfeld as director, Sonnenfeld will take part as executive producer on the project.[13]

Barry is also in talks with Warner Bros. to make a live action film adaptation of the DC Comics characters, The Metal Men.

He also agreed to direct the Beverly Hills Cop pilot for CBS and serve as an executive producer as well. However, Paramount Pictures dropped the idea in favor of a fourth film directed by Brett Ratner.


  1. ^ "Barry Sonnenfeld Biography (1953-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  2. ^ Coakley, Jacob. "In Memoriam: Sonny Sonnenfeld, 1919-2016 - PLSN". 
  3. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths SONNENFELD, IRENE KELLY.". The New York Times. 9 March 2000. 
  4. ^ "TCM Barry Sonnenfeld Biography". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  5. ^ "Berlinale: 1996 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  6. ^ "'Men in Black 3' Ready to Roll in 3-D With Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones". 
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (November 24, 2008). "It's a man's world at CBS". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 24, 2008. 
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 1, 2009). "Sonnenfeld takes 'Spellman Files'". Variety. 
  9. ^ "Barry Sonnenfeld to Direct Gil's All Fright Diner for DreamWorks". 
  10. ^ "Sonnenfeld takes helm of "Farsi" comedy pilot". Reuters. November 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin. "Barry Sonnenfeld To Direct Supernatural 'Lore' With Dwayne Johnson IndieWire". www.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  12. ^ "Barry Sonnenfeld in Talks to Direct 'Lore' for Warner Bros". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  13. ^ "Director Dave Green Replaces Barry Sonnenfeld in Lore". 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2017-01-29. 

External links

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