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Spike Jonze (born Adam Spiegel; October 22, 1969) is an American director and producer, whose work includes music videos, commercials, film and television. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Charlie Kaufman, which include the 1999 film Being John Malkovich and the 2002 film Adaptation, and for his work as director of the 2009 film Where the Wild Things Are. He is also credited as a co-creator of MTV's Jackass. He is currently the creative director of He is also part owner of skateboard company Girl Skateboards with riders Rick Howard and Mike Carroll.

He also co-founded Directors Label with Chris Cunningham and Michel Gondry.

Early life

Jonze was born in Rockville, Marylandmarker, and raised in Bethesda, Marylandmarker and in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania. His father, Arthur Spiegel III, was a distant relation of the Spiegel catalog family and founded APM Management Consultants. His mother, Sandy Granzow, is a writer, communications consultant in developing countries, and artist. His brother Sam is a producer and DJ. Jonze attended The Field School in Washington, D.C., and Walt Whitman High Schoolmarker.

When he was in junior high and high school, Jonze worked at the Rockville BMX Store, where his coworkers gave him his nickname "Spike Jonze". Jonze was a photographer for "Freestylin'". Jonze fronted Club Homeboy, an international BMX club, with Mark "Lew" Lewman and Andy Jenkins, both co-editors of Freestylin' Magazine in the mid- to late 1980s. The three also created the youth culture magazines Homeboy and Dirt (the latter of which was described as "Sassy Magazine for boys," being published by the same company and distributed in cellophane bags with the landmark magazine for young women). Jonze was interviewed in Joe Kid on a Stingray, the 2006 documentary on the history of BMX.


In 2006, he was nominated by the Directors Guild of Americamarker for "Outstanding Achievement in Commercials in 2005." He was nominated for a body of work that included "Hello Tomorrow" for Adidas, "Penguin" for Miller Beer, and "Pardon Our Dust" for The Gap. He was a producer and co-creator of MTV television series Jackass and Jackass: The Movie, also directing some of the segments. Jonze has acted in some videos and films; his most prominent role was in Three Kings as the sweet, dimwitted, casually racist Conrad, in which he was directed by friend David O. Russell.

Jonze was also a co-founder and editor of Dirt magazine along with Mark Lewman and Andy Jenkins, as well as an editor for Grand Royal Magazine and senior photographer for Transworld Skateboarding. In the past, Jonze shot street skateboarding videos, most notably Blind skateboard company's Video Days in 1991, and Lakai Footwear's Fully Flared in 2007. He also co-directed the Girl Skateboards film Yeah Right! and the Chocolate Skateboards video Hot Chocolate. In the closing credits montage of Yeah Right! Spike is shown doing a nollie heelflip in loafers. He is also co-owner of Girl Skateboards.

Jonze has many alter egos, including Richard Koufey (alternately spelled Coufey or Couffe), the leader of the Torrance Community Dance Group, an urban troupe that performs in public spaces. The Koufey persona appeared when Jonze, in character, filmed himself dancing to Fatboy Slim's "Rockafeller Skank" as it played on a boom box in a public area. Spike showed the video to Slim, who loved it. Jonze then assembled a group of dancers to perform to Slim's "Praise You" outside a Westwood, Californiamarker movie theater and taped the performance. The resulting clip was a huge success, and "Koufey" and his troupe were invited to New York City to perform the song for the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. The video received awards for Best Direction, Breakthrough, and Best Choreography, which Jonze accepted, still in character. Jonze made a mockumentary about the experience called Torrance Rises.

He also has a speaking part along with Dave Eggers in the Beck song "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton" from his 2006 album, The Information. He appears in the "Exoskeleton" part.

Since 2007, he has been the creative director at, an online television network supplied by Vice and funded by MTV.

Spike Jonze was part of the Detour-Moleskine project in New York in 2007. The project invites authors to compile and illustrate Moleskine notebooks with experienced knowledge, to provide an intimate insight into the artists' creative process.

Most recently, Jonze directed Where the Wild Things Are, which opened in the United States on October 16, 2009. It is arguably his most anticipated film to date, the product of an almost decade long collaboration with author Maurice Sendak.

In July 2009, Jonze acquired the rights to make a film adaptation of the Shane Jones novel, Light Boxes. It is expected that Jonze will act as producer on this project with Ray Tintori attached to direct.

Personal life

On June 26, 1999, Jonze married director Sofia Coppola, whom he had known for nearly ten years. On December 5, 2003, the couple filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." The character of John, a career-driven photographer (Giovanni Ribisi) in Coppola's Lost In Translation (2003), was rumored to be based on Jonze, though Coppola has vehemently denied this.

He was known to be dating the Yeah Yeah Yeahs's lead singer, Karen O.

He also dated Michelle Williams. Jonze and Williams publicly came out as a couple in July 2008. Williams confirmed their split in September 2009.

Recent documentaries

He was the executive-producer of the 2007 rockumentary Heavy Metal in Baghdad.

Jonze will appear in the "making of" documentary that accompanies the credits of The 1 Second Film of which he is also a producer.



Year Film Role
1993 Mi Vida Loca Actor
1996 Pig! Actor
1997 How They Get There Writer, Director
The Game Actor
1998 Amarillo by Morning Director
Free Tibet Cinematographer
1999 Being John Malkovich Director
Three Kings Actor
Torrance Rises Actor, Director, Choreographer
2001 Human Nature Producer
2002 Adaptation Director
Jackass: The Movie Producer, Featured
Keep Your Eyes Open Actor
2006 Jackass: Number Two Producer, Featured
2008 Synecdoche, New York Producer
2009 The 1 Second Film Producer, Appearing
Where the Wild Things Are Director, Writer
We Were Once a Fairytale (short) Director

Music videos



Year Title Position
2000 Jackass Creator, Executive Producer
2004 Sonic Youth Video Dose Actor

Skateboard videos


  1. [1]
  2. "Vice Music chooses the orchard"
  3. [2]
  4. "Director Label series"
  5. Spike Jonze Biography (1969-)
  6. [3]
  7. "Joe Kid on a Sting-ray Official Website"
  8. "Imdb - Spike Jonze - Awards"
  9. "Sneak peek: The monsters of where the wild things are"
  10. "Spike Jonze-Moleskine"
  11. "Spike Jonze On Where The Wild Things Are", Empire Online Fovember 19, 2008
  12. Bringing ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ to the Screen
  13. Empire Onlines, Spike Jonze Picks Up Light Boxes, July 28, 2009
  14. "Jonze and Coppola Announce Divorce Plans"
  15. "Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze to divorce"
  16. "Sofia's Choice ", Entertainment Weekly, October 3, 2003.
  17. "Yeah Yeah Yeahs", Under the Radar Mag, April 1, 2006.

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