Before taking his name from the great bandleader, Spike Jonze was born Adam Spiegel in 1969, and lived for the first part of his life in Potomac, MD, being raised along with his younger brother Sam by his single mom. He began working in the skateboarding industry as a filmmaker, and acquired much success, especially after co-founding Girl Skateboards with Rick Howard. He began his print career in about 1987 working as an editor, writer and photographer on Freestylin', Go, and BMX Action, all BMX/freestyle magazines, and Homeboy, which was into BMX, music, skateboarding, and a whole bunch of other stuff. In 1991, he co-founded Sassy's brother magazine Dirt (remember that magazine that came packaged with Sassy that most girls just threw out?). Lately, you can see some of his writings/photography in magazines like the Beastie Boy's Grand Royal and Juxtapoz.
Spike has been managed by Satellite Films since 1992, and in 1997, he signed an overall first-look development and production deal with Propaganda films for fetures and TV projects, and its subsidiary Satellite Films for commercial and video representation.
Aside from his directing, he has also appeared in various TV and short movies including Pig!, directed by Francine McDougall, where he plays a nose picker, and in the Pond video for "Spokes" where he's a Hollywood Blvd. punker named Ricky. He has had other bit roles in Mi Vida Loca, Three Kings and The Game.
This summer, Spike and Sofia Coppola, his long time girlfriend and creative soulmate, were married (as she walked down the aisle to Tom Waits' rendition of "Here Comes the Bride").
The greatest thing about Spike Jonze isn't his brilliant eye, his colours or his editing, it's his style--so influenced by his personality. It awesome to see that there are still people that are out there to have fun and who still hold on to the childlike wonder and imagination that drew them into the film industry in the first place. I've heard from numerous people who've said that working with him was so much fun. During the making of the never completed project Harold and the Purple Crayon, which Spike had signed on to direct, the president of Tristar commented, "It was clear to me that Spike was Harold.", noting that it's defintely Spike's wit, sense of humour, and ability to take things as they come that have led him to the success that he deserves.
Through it all, he's never lost his sense of humour. Although it's been said that it's a difficult task interviewing him (seeing as he tends to not like to talk about himself, or anything directly related to what he's being interviewed about), rumour has it that he's a big prankster (like the time he printed a pamphlet on how to enjoy the poshest Hollywood hotel pools without being registered).
It's even more amazing that through all of his success, he still realizes his roots, and the people that work for Girl Skateboards will attest that he's still out there, loading and unloading trucks, filming, taking pictures, and staying true to where he came from. True talent will always persist.
© 1999 Laurie Warden