Hailing from the Big Apple, Sonnenfeld graduated from New York University's Graduate Institute of Film and Television in 1978. He began his career by working on pornography films, corporate films and documentaries including the Oscar-nominated In Our Water (1982). In 1984, he joined one of his former classmates, Joel Coen, in making the black-comedy feature "Blood Simple." The film launched his career as a cinematographer, and for the next six years, he continued to work in feature film and television in that field. His many cinematography credits include "Raising Arizona," "Big," "When Harry Met Sally," and "Misery."
His time as a cinematographer was doubled with work as a director and cameraman on commercials for such clients as Reebok and Nike.
By the '90s however, Sonnenfeld decided to take another role behind the camera. His directorial bow was made in 1991 with the hit comedy "The Addams Family." Following his impressive debut, he went on to direct a sequel to the Addams, "Get Shorty" and his greatest achievement, "Men in Black," which won several awards from various film festivals and making over $580 million worldwide.
Later efforts such as "Wild, Wild West" (1999) and "RV" (2006) proved disappointing, to say the least, although Sonnenfeld did have luck as a producer on films like Disney's "Enchanted" (2007) and the Emmy Award-winning fantasy series "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, 2007-09). After nearly six years away from the director's chair, he reteamed with Agents J and K (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) once again for "Men in Black III" (2012), this time with its eye-popping special effects delivered in 3-D. Boasting a 30-year career populated with smashing triumphs and unmitigated disasters, few understood the Hollywood axiom of "You're only as good as your last picture," better than Sonnenfeld.
Sonnenfeld has also worked hard as a producer in the later half of the '90s right into the new millennium, producing everything from his own films like Get Shorty, Wild Wild West and Big Trouble, to television series like Fantasy Island, Secret Agent Man, and the live-action The Tick.
Married to fellow producer and actress Susan Ringo, Sonnenfeld lives in Los Angeles.
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