SPIKE JONZE IS FAMED FOR HIS SHORT RESPONSES TO questions. The eponymous star of his new ﬁlm. Being John M(l/k()\‘i(‘/I. claimed that Spike only had ﬁve or six phrases in his vocabulary: ‘That sounds good'. ‘That's amazing' and ‘That's crazy' chief among them. That assessment is conﬁrmed when you talk to him: on the few occasions he
does test his vocal chords. you can bank on it being part of
an elaborate hoax.
‘Richard Koufey should get the credit for directing Fatboy Slim's ‘Praise You‘ video.’ says Jonze with no hint of a wind—up. ‘He’s the guy who plays the postman in Bjork’s 'lt‘s Oh So Quiet’ video. It was the ﬁrst video that Richard had done so I lent him a video camera and editing equipment.~
Koufey even appeared instead of Spike at the MTV awards to pick up an award for the video. Except it was Jonze wearing a pair of glasses and a crap jumper: Jon/.e is
Superman to Koufey‘s Clark Kent. ()ther stunts he has pulled include getting himself beaten up for an interview and using spy cameras on journalists to make them look stupid on websites.
The Superman analogy isn‘t too far from the truth: Jonze not only directs the best music videos and TV commercials. he takes amazing photographs. heads the coolest skate-gear clothing label. has started numerous magazines — ‘zines as he refers to them — and is a mighty fine actor as well. His is the memorably quirky
performance as Conrad Vig in the recently released Gulf
War parody Three Kings. alongside George Clooney. Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube. Out—doing his co-stars. Jon/c did all his own stunts. much to their bemusement. In fact. he‘s an accomplished stuntman and has been known to jump out of fast moving cars . . . for fun. Fun is the key word. just as when Jonze lived out a childhood dream and stumbled upon a role in Star Wars: Episode II. ‘I walked by the set one day and I was a stormtrooper.‘ he says.
camel. And Malkovich himself is sent up in a brilliant parody of his intense screen persona.
‘Charlie Kaufman. who wrote the script. got to the point where this puppeteer discovers a portal.‘ Jon/.e says. ‘lle thought about who it was going to be and wrote John Malkovich. It was the ﬁrst name he thought of and those kind of ﬁrst instincts are always the best. We kept pursuing John and meeting him. He read the script a long time ago and we heard he thought it was funny. That is all we heard. so Charlie and I worked on the script for a while and when we thought it was ready we sent it back to him a couple of years later. It took him a long while to decide that it was something he wanted to do. It‘s good that he did because we could not have come up with anybody else as good or as exciting.‘ Being Nicolas Cage? Being Al Pacino"? Being Steve Martin? Yup. Jonze‘s right.
Since completing Being John Malkovie/i. Jon/.e has tied
the knot with Soﬁa Coppola. Francis‘s daughter. It seems to be a match made in heaven; Coppola has also just finished her own critically acclaimed first feature. The Virgin Suicides. Moreover. they are both born into America‘s best known families (Jonze's real name is Adam Spiegel and is heir to the billion dollar Spiegel catalogue empire). They have been proclaimed Hollywood‘s golden couple. and Jon/.e is typically loquacious about the state of his marriage: ‘lt's great.‘
Complicated by multiple personalities. involved in numerous careers and obscured by a web of lies and rumours. Jonze is the embodiment of Being John Mrilkrn'ie/i‘s tagline: 'Ever Wanted To Be Someone lilse'.’~
Being John Malkovich opens Fri 17 Mar. See review, page 27
'I got to run through a scene. It was kind of disillusioning actually. You‘re on the set and people are in their costumes smoking cigarettes talking about how much overtime they are going to get. It was just working and it wasn‘t really acting.‘
Note the joined-up talking. This could. of course. be one great fabrication to support the rumour that he‘s going to direct the next Star Wars adventure. A rumour he refuses to confirm or deny.
More reliable is word of mouth on Jonze's feature directing debut. Being .IU/Ili Malkoi‘ieh is unlike any ﬁlm you‘ll see this or any other year. It's the story of an unemployed puppeteer (John Cusack) who is married to an obsessive pet shop employee (a virtually unrecognisable Cameron Dial.) with a penchant for bringing her work home. Spike should win an award simply for making Diaz and Cusack look as attractive as the backside of a
So, just who is Spike? Words: Miles Fielder
-A|ter egos: Richard Koufey, pop promo director, Adam Spiegel ireal name),
heir to the billion dollar Spiegel catalogue empire, Conrad Vig, recineck Gulf War vet in Three Kings, storm trooper in Star Wars Episode //
Career beginnings: Making skateboard Videos, which led to Sonic Youth asking hrrn to shoot their next Video
Pop promo credits: Daft Punk's 'Da Funk', Fatboy Slim's 'Prarse You', 3jork's 'It's Oh So Quiet', REM's 'Crush With Eyeliner", the Beastie Boys's ‘Sabotage', 'lhe Chemical Bi'othei's's 'Elektro Bank’.
Other careers: TV commercials director (Lee Jeans, Coca~Cola, Nike), photographer, magazine publisher, head of a skate gear Clothing label, actor tin addition to the above mentioned films, Jon/e also appeared in Alison Anders's Mi Vida local, stuntman the did all his own stunts in Three Kings), amateur prankster.
Married to: Longtime partner Sofia Coppola, daughter of l-rancis, whose own feature debut, The Virgin Suicides, has been critically praised They are Hollywood's golden cOLiple.
Infamous pranks: Jonze greeted his Wife at los' Angeles (i'll)()fi disguised in a 'fat surt', Godfather-style puffed cheeks and greased face He's also covered the table in ketchup during intervrews and filmed interViewers wrth spy cameras and later broadcast the whole thing on the rnternet. He also likes jumping out of movrng cars,
Rumours: Jon/e is gomg to direct the next Star Wars adventure
Kudos: ’In ten years time we’ll all be working for this guy.‘ l-‘rancrs Ford Coppola.
Next up: Star Wars: Episode // aside, Jon/e is working again With Being john Malkovrc/i sci‘iptvvi'iter (.hailie Kaufman on Human Nature, the story of a woman With more body hair than C_hc—.>wbacc'a the
16-30 Mar 2000 THE “ST 19