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Barry Sonnenfeld Biography, Age, Wife, Movies, Net Worth, Cinematography

Barry Sonnenfeld is an American filmmaker and television director. His director credits include The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel

Barry Sonnenfeld Biography

Barry Sonnenfeld is an American filmmaker and television director. His director credits include The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel Addams Family Values (1993) alongside the Men in Black trilogy (1997–2012), Wild Wild West (1999) and Get Shorty (1995). Sonnenfeld currently has four collaborations with actor Will Smith. He previously worked as a cinematographer before becoming a director.

Barry Sonnenfeld Age | Family

Barry was born on 1 April 1953 in New York City. He is 66 years old. Sonnenfeld is the son of  Irene “Kelly” (Kellerman), an art teacher, and Sonny Sonnenfeld, a lighting salesman, educator, and architectural lighting designer. He was raised in a Jewish family. Barry’s family is Jewish.

Barry Sonnenfeld Education | Career

Barry received a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College. He later graduated from New York University Film School in 1978.  He graduated from New York University of 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).

Barry Sonnenfeld

Barry Sonnenfeld Wife

Barry is married to Susan Ringo. The couple married in1989. The pair share one child named Chloe Sonnenfeld.

Barry Sonnenfeld Movie | TV Show

Film

Year

Film

Director

Producer

Notes

1991 The Addams Family

Yes

No

1993 Addams Family Values

Yes

No

For Love or Money

Yes

No

1995 Get Shorty

Yes

executive

1997 Men in Black

Yes

No

Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Director
1998 Out of Sight

No

executive

1999 Wild Wild West

Yes

Yes

Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2000 The Crew

No

Yes

2002 Big Trouble

Yes

Yes

Men in Black II

Yes

No

2004 Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

No

executive

The Ladykillers

No

Yes

2006 RV

Yes

No

2007 Enchanted

No

Yes

2008 Space Chimps

No

Yes

2012 Men in Black 3

Yes

No

2016 Nine Lives

Yes

No

2019 Men in Black: International

No

executive

Television

Year

Title

Director

Producer

Notes

1998 Maximum Bob

Yes

executive

Directed “Pilot”
1999 Fantasy Island

No

executive

13 episodes
Partners

No

executive

TV film
2000 Secret Agent Man

No

executive

12 episodes
2001-2002 The Tick

Yes

executive

Directed “Pilot”
2004 Karen Sisco

No

Yes

1 episode
2008 Hackett

Yes

No

TV film
Notes from the Underbelly

Yes

executive

Directed 6 episodes
Play or Be Played

Yes

executive

TV film
Suburban Shootout

Yes

No

2009 Pushing Daisies

Yes

executive

Directed 2 episodes;
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
The Bridget Show

Yes

No

TV film
2010 Funny in Farsi

Yes

No

2013 Beverly Hills Cop

Yes

No

TV pilot
2014 Dead Boss

Yes

No

TV film
2016 Independent Lens

No

executive

TV series documentary;
Film An Honest Liar
2017 The Tick

No

executive

12 episodes
2017-2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events

Yes

executive

Directed 10 episodes;
Nominated- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program

Cinematography

Year

Title

Notes

1982 In Our Water Documentary
1984 Blood Simple
1985 Compromising Positions
1987 Raising Arizona
Three O’Clock High
Throw Momma from the Train
1988 Big
1989 When Harry Met Sally…
1990 Miller’s Crossing
Misery

Year

Title

Notes

1983 How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days TV film
1984 ABC Afterschool Specials 1 episode
1985 Doubletake TV miniseries;
2 episodes
1986 Classified Love TV film
Welcome Home, Bobby TV film

As actor

Year

Title

Role

1991 The Addams Family Passenger on Gomez’s train (uncredited)
1997 Men in Black Alien on Monitor
2002 Men in Black II Neuralyzed Father
2006 RV Irv
2012 Men in Black III Husband Watching Launch
2016 Nine Lives Additional cat voices

Year

Title

Role

Notes

2001 The Tick Guy in Couch, Cab Driver (uncredited) Episode: “Pilot”
2017 A Series of Unfortunate Events Mr. Tammerlane (voice)
Isaac “Ike” Anwhistle
2 episodes
Episode: “The Carnivorous Carnival” Pt. 1

Barry Sonnenfeld Net Worth

Sonnenfeld is an American filmmaker and television director who has a net worth of $80 million.

Barry Sonnenfeld Rv

RV (also known as Runaway Vacation) is a 2006 American family comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick, written by Geoff Rodkey, and starring Robin Williams, Cheryl Hines, Joanna Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jeff Daniels.

Barry Sonnenfeld A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, or simply A Series of Unfortunate Events, is an American black comedy-drama web television series from Netflix, developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, based on Lemony Snicket’s children’s novel series of the same name.

Barry Sonnenfeld Spider

Director Barry Sonnenfeld makes a cameo appearance in the film as the … David Koepp was originally involved with the film’s script, but left to do “Spider-Man”.

 Instagram

Twitter

Barry Sonnenfeld Email

Address information:

William Morris Endeavor Entertainment
(Talent and Literary Agency)
9601 Wilshire Blvd.
3rd Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-5213
USA
Phone: (310) 285-9000
Fax:
Official website

Barry Sonnenfeld Interview

Why is Netflix’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ so superior to the movie? We ask Barry Sonnenfeld

Believe me when I tell you that one of the great works of television art — yes, art — over the last two years is the Netflix adaptation of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” 13 alliteratively titled volumes of-of suspense, adventure, terror, love, obsession, satire, absurdity and vocabulary lessons written by Daniel Handler under the name Lemony Snicket. (Snicket is also the story’s narrator, and a quasi-character just outside it, driven like the Ancient Mariner to relate his tale.) The third and final season began streaming on New Year’s Day.

The series concerns the Baudelaire orphans — Violet (who invents things), Klaus (who reads and retains a great deal) and Sunny (a baby with a talent for biting) — and the menacing Count Olaf, whose great dream is to separate them from their inheritance, and throughout the series assumes disguises only the children see through. Horrible things happen, mostly. The first three novels were adapted for the big screen in 2004, with Jim Carrey as Olaf. It was a disappointment to this fan of the books and, I assume, others as no further films arrived to continue the tale.

It turns out the series was just waiting for the age of streaming television. Where the film compressed three books into less than two hours, the television version, which began in 2017 and stars Neil Patrick Harris, has adapted each at two-part feature length, filling out and refining the novels’ mythology. Most important, it has Barry Sonnenfeld (“Get Shorty,” “Men in Black,” “The Tick,” “Pushing Daisies”) as show-runner, executive producer and primary director, not to mention Handler writing the screenplays. It feels definitive and looks fantastic.

Both Sonnenfeld and Handler were originally involved in the movie; both were let go from it. Sonnenfeld, with whom I spoke recently by phone from Telluride, Colo., where he has a home, calls their history bringing the novels to the screen a “series of unfortunate events that ended well.” The series, he says, has been “the best experience I’ve ever had working in the film or television business.”

Where does your history with ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ begin?

I had read the books to my daughter, Chloe, when she was a kid, and at some point she moved on and I didn’t. I would say the second half of the series I read without her. What attracted me to the books was that they posit that children are capable and smart, and all adults, whether they mean well or are villains, are equally ineffectual and horrible — which could have described my parents. They meant well, but they were horrible.

Tell me about working with Daniel Handler.

Daniel’s really funny and really dry; we have a similar dark sense of humor. He has a much bigger vocabulary than I do. We both felt the movie was more overproduced [relative to] what we wanted to do on the show. I went to Netflix and said, “I want to shoot this show entirely on the stage; I want everything to be controlled, from the skies, to the colors, to the water.” We didn’t want a huge, loud production; we wanted something that was much more intimate. It’s dry, it’s flat. The comedy is never meant to be jokey so much as allowing the audience to find the joke. We don’t try to sugarcoat things — people die in the show. This isn’t to say good or bad, but it’s the opposite of a Disney show. It’s not bright, it’s not colorful, its not sing-songy, it’s not happy. It’s dark, it’s dreary. The palette is very restricted.

The other thing we wanted was that Lemony should be an onscreen narrator. I thought the character was not served well by the movie — which was basically Jude Law at a typewriter. [Our Lemony] would never be in the same chronological time as the action, but he was telling the story and could be physically in the scenes. That was a huge plus. And even though I had worked with [Patrick] Warburton on “The Tick” and “Men in Black II” and “Big Trouble,” he was actually Daniel’s idea for Lemony. He brings so much to the show emotionally and tonally; he can say really funny things without you ever thinking, “This guy’s trying to be funny.”

But that character is also so sad. He’s so wounded.

He’s incredibly sad, he’s incredibly wounded, and one of the things that makes me cry every time I see the third season is the resolution of Warburton’s character. We don’t want to give that away, but I will say it so bookends the three seasons — it was not in the books, but it feels like it was always supposed to be that way. I think what we’ve managed to do, while still remaining mysterious and subtle and never spoon-feeding information, is to fill out a lot of questions that were never resolved in the books, and resolve them in an organic way that feels like, “I remember that.” Without becoming overly commercial or wrapping everything up, I think our ending ultimately is more satisfying.

How did you settle on Neil Patrick Harris for Count Olaf?

Neil was also Daniel’s idea. What’s funny about that is soon after I had the meeting with Netflix — I hadn’t been hired yet, but I felt the meeting went very well — my wife and child and I were having Thanksgiving with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos in Manhattan, and among the guests were Neil and his husband, David Burtka, and their kids. And I sat opposite Neil, and I said, “Hey, Neil, we’ve never met and I think you’d be great in a show I can’t tell you anything about because I don’t have the job yet, but if I get the job I’d love for you to be … the guy.” And then I got the job and we were discussing who would play Olaf and Daniel said, “What about Neil Patrick Harris?” I said, “Perfect, I’ve recently met him and offered him the job.”

He’s extraordinary. Not only is he playing Count Olaf, but he’s playing Count Olaf playing Shirley, Captain Sham, whatever — and he’s brilliant, and so funny and smart. He wore a different cologne as each character; you always knew when he was coming onstage ’cause you could smell the over-cologned Neil Patrick Harris as the stage door opened.

What about him made you feel he was right?

Part of it was that he feels equally at home in television, in movies and onstage; he could be stylized, he could be big, but he would always be real — real and theatrical at the same time is hard to find. And Olaf’s character is all over the place; he’s got to be really mean and really funny, and sort of a failure, but a threat. The first episode we ever did, “The Bad Beginning,” there’s a scene early on where Olaf slaps Klaus across the face; we did several takes and Neil kept trying to show remorse. I said, “Neil, we’ve got to do one where there’s no remorse.” And Neil said, “Well I feel bad about that, I just hit the kid.” I said, “Olaf is a buffoon, but our heroes are only as heroic as our villain is villainous, and this is one of the few chances we have to say to the audience, and to the Baudelaire kids, this guy’s dangerous.”

Was it hard casting the Baudelaire children?

Yes and no. I had worked with Malina Weissman on a movie called “Nine Lives,” and she totally got my direction, which is always, “Flatter, faster.” I find if actors talk really quickly, it doesn’t give them time to act, and I hate to watch acting onscreen. In fact, my wife always has to sit to my right and hold my right arm down so I can’t wave at the screen to make them talk faster. I only got through half an episode of “Mad Men,” ’cause I couldn’t believe they were allowed to talk so slowly. So Malina was easy, because I knew she could be flat and fast and not like a kid actor.

What’s really hard is to find male actors because there seem to be fewer boys who want to go into acting, and often when they do they want to sort of overact. We had a really hard time finding Klaus; Louis Hynes put himself on tape in London — he’s British. He had never acted before, except an occasional school play or something, and we flew him from London to L.A. and worked with Malina and Louis for about an hour and decided at the very last minute — we were heavily into building sets — that he was our guy. And then Sunny was hard; we interviewed a lot of twins, but they just didn’t look right. And Presley [Smith] had the right look and the right personality. We took a chance and decided we’d go with one baby, which is always hard to do, and she turned out great.

She turned into a good little actress.

I know! In the third season, she’s saying words. When she says to Mr. Poe [the incompetent executor of the Baudelaire estate, played by K. Todd Freeman], “I despise you,” it’s just … fantastic.

The show is very stylized but very human and emotional at the same time; can you talk about the relationship of something that looks quite unreal and fantastic and at the same time gets right to matters of the heart?

I think it’s specific to my personality. Or my tone. Whether it was “Pushing Daisies” or “Addams Family” or “Men in Black,” I love to create specific worlds, yet not let the viewer feel they’re outside of the world; I like to invite them in. This sounds technical, but I think the fact that I use very wide angle lenses makes a really big difference. On the one hand, wide angle lenses are very stylized, but it also means the camera is near the actor. I think the audience feels they’re there in the scene and therefore more emotionally engaged. It’s the opposite of what, for instance, Tony and Ridley Scott do, and did; they always use very, very, very long lenses, telephoto lenses, and their shows are very beautiful. But somehow the audience unconsciously knows they’re far away, that they’re observing the scene as opposed to participating in it.

Do you have a picture of your audience?

Netflix gives us no information. I have no idea who’s watching the show. I have no idea what percentage of the people watching the show have read the books. I had no idea if we should have more action, or more comedy, or they all love Mr. Poe, we need more of that — no idea. They’re fantastic to work with, they were so supportive and so great, but they just don’t give the filmmakers any information about how well the show’s doing, not doing, who’s watching.

Is it freeing in any way not to have to think about that?

No. I’m a commercial director — I want to please the audience. I want to please them on my terms, but if I knew that 80% of the audience said, “We want more action,” we would have found a way. If everyone had said, “We want more Presley” — well, of course, they’d want more Presley. It’s not a bad thing to know who your audience is.

Barry Sonnenfeld News

‘The Tick’ Creator On Season 2 and What Superheroes Represent Today

The Amazon series is Ben Edlund’s third on-screen iteration of his beloved creation. He reveals what it took for him to learn to tell the story properly.

or over half his life, Ben Edlund has been shadowed by a giant figure in a blue superhero suit. But rather than try to escape him, the creator of “The Tick” keeps finding new ways to tell stories about his unique creation.

The latest iteration of the comedic superhero series will debut its second season Friday on Amazon, but deciding to bring the Tick back to television for the third time was something that Edlund admitted wasn’t easy. “It’s a very chilling, scary concept to try to do it again,” he told IndieWire. But in this current age of superhero saturation, he keeps coming back to his peculiar creation. “I’m really excited with what we’re doing now, because I feel like this is a story we can keep telling into the future.”

Prior to the new series starring Peter Serafinowicz and Griffin Newman, “The Tick” was an independent comic book character Edlund first started doodling at the age of 17; in 1994, it was adapted as an animated series for Fox Kids, and then in 2001 Barry Sonnenfeld helmed a live-action adaptation starring Patrick Warburton as the titular character.

Each version made an impression upon fans, and each was reflective of its time period. For example, at the very beginning, Edlund’s “Tick” comics were coming out around the same time as groundbreaking comic works like Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” — stories which took a post-modern look at superheroes and examining their significance.

The trend streches back to eighties-era comics, and is now happening today on a global scale. “Just in general, we’re in a totally different place now, where I don’t have to educate anybody about superhero tropes. American Express does that for us. Commercials do. Everything says ‘superhero’ now. I thought there couldn’t be more superhero stuff on five years ago. I was wrong,” he said.

And with that saturation comes self-examination. “It’s a collective moment, and it’s a weird thing, because what superheroes used to represent, I don’t believe they represent anymore, in purity and wish fulfillment,” he said. “I think now we’re going through some kind of catharsis in the experience. There’s something different happening, which is less about just pure fantasy and more about processing, because I think things become more crucial the more they’re actually processing things for us. My guess would be that superhero fiction is now an instrument through which we are processing our own god-like power, and our angst about it.”

“The Tick,” of course, was always ahead of its time. But between the 2001 “Tick” and 2017 edition, Edlund got an epic education as to what it takes to make television, beginning with a job on Joss Whedon’s short-lived cult favorite “Firefly,” which led to him joining Whedon’s “Angel” after “Firefly’s” cancellation, followed by a long stint on the WB/CW drama “Supernatural.” “Each one added to my skill base,” he said.

Gaining that experience, creating a resume which also includes Fox’s “Gotham,” “The Venture Brothers,” and “Powers,” was really important, because Edlund said that “‘The Tick,’ as a show, is maybe about as hard a show you can undertake. I mean, there are shows that are better, I don’t mean to say it’s the best or anything. I just mean that as an array of things you have to do as a producer, this is just crazy. It’s got visual effects, fight choreography, costuming, incredibly involved costuming, puppeteering. We have animatronics. We have lots of aggressive locations and set builds that are from another world. So I needed everything I learned just to have a shot at accomplishing what we were trying to accomplish.”

Edlund said that he was still really fond of the 2001 version of the show — “I love Patrick, I love David Burke, who played Arthur, and I thought Sonnenfeld’s direction was just gorgeous” — but what he learned from working in the Whedon-verse as well as “Supernatural” was how important it was to connect an audience with the characters of a show.

“Before, I was exerting a tremendous amount of energy in the villain of the week, and lots of fun for the Tick, and a tremendous number of ideas coming down the pipe,” he said. “But it was always at the same volume of interactivity. The emotions were not further engaged with then you would have been last week. There was no crescendo, or it wasn’t operating like a story, it was operating like a ritual or something.”

Now, he said, he feels he has the skills which help the show work on a more emotional level. “The second season feels like proof to me that it works this way — combining the fun of this largely light thing with engaging, familiar, psychologically compelling elements that are the real story,” he said. “It’s a lot to try and fold into this silly blue man. But I am deeply intrigued by the effort.”

One intriguing aspect of each iteration of “The Tick” is that beyond Arthur, the Tick, and Arthur’s sister Dot, there’s not a ton of overlap in terms of supporting characters — each new version has filled out the ranks with largely original creations. This is, Edlund said, a result of feeling that “the first step in each one of these is to figure out what’s of the times, and what feels now. [Each time], ‘The Tick’ is processing this age of superheroes.”

For example, in the latest series, the character of Overkill (Scott Speiser) “wrote himself. Overkill just said, ‘I’m going to be on this show for sure because of all these Punishers and Deathstrokes, and Deadpools.”

Meanwhile, one of the key figures in Season 2 is a new antagonist known as Lobstercules, who was created by Jose Fernandez at Ironhead Studio based on Edlund’s sketching, as seen in the exclusive image below.

Edlund said the initial inspiration “starts with a lobster and Hercules. But it’s Lobstercules. It’s even dumber,” he laughed. “First it just flashed across my brain as ‘Prawn Hercules’ but that didn’t work. It didn’t roll off the tongue.”

The key inspiration beyond the combination of shellfish and strongman was “wanting to have a very visually powerful antagonist, something to go up against the Tick that would really just have made the boyhood version of myself, the child in me, just go crazy for excitement, right? Because that’s the other part of what we want from this is for it to really open that up in adults and kids — the fun of superheroes.”

Edlund deliberately infuses “The Tick” with a upbeat energy, as the character is “a positive person who is showing up in a love-filled universe that’s forgotten that it is a love-filled universe,” he said. “So he hears the music and he shows up to make other people hear it, too. I like things to mean things, and I think that we’re missing some of that and ‘The Tick’ does, too. So if you sense an upbeatness and hope and warmth in this, it’s because it’s drenched in it. Down to the marrow.”

When it comes to a third season, Edlund is hopeful. “It’s a big show, so we need to prove ourselves in this season, in its response,” he said. “I think we got something going that people would like to see more of. So, I am cautiously optimistic that a response will be tendered that gives us a shot, you know?”

Sony produces “The Tick” for Amazon, which Edlund thinks is “the exact right place” for the show because “Amazon has sort of set itself out as the place that will do superhero fare, but it must have a sort of a commentary level” — something it shares with the upcoming new series “The Boys,” which will premiere on Amazon this summer.

“I think we’re part of the house take on the whole thing,” he said. “As far as moving into the future, we just want a Season 3, and I think Amazon wants that, but they have to be satisfied by a set of analytics. The math of which I do not claim to understand.”

It helps that Season 1 was, according to Edlund, one of the best-received Amazon comedies, based on user ratings. “As I understand it, it was among the top five programs… basically, I know it did very well,” he said.

There was one setback — the choice to split Season 1 into two parts separated by months. “Splitting the season into two halves did not help us, and so we are not doing that this season, because this season sort of stands on its own,” he said. “You could watch the first season, or you can kind of step in and just watch these two superheroes decide they’re going to get to work and get to work.”

If a third season happens, Edlund added, he hopes to do “more of… more. The second season was about getting up and running and having the Tick and Arthur go to work… So we’re up and running. It is really now time to have an emotionally deep, very enjoyable version that really should, I’m hoping, give us all the fun of the cartoon and all of the emotional feels, if I may, of the last two seasons. A synthesis of those things that I don’t think has ever been seen before. I think the second season is sort of a tee-up to that, and worked out beautifully, but I think it can be even more.”