Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“I liked Woody Allen when I was younger. The early Woody Allen is a complete mess, which I liked as a kid, but he was also a person that I could aspire to be, you know, short Jewish guys up there on the screen. I wanted to write comedies when I was younger, and yeah I liked his style. But I had a different idea of things then.” Charlie Kaufman
First coming to prominence as the writer of the surprise hit Being John Malkovich (1999), for which he received numerous accolades and an Oscar nod, American screenwriter-producer Charlie Kaufman, known for his interesting scripts that frequently center on an introverted, somewhat shy, male protagonist and a more dominant female figure, launched to superstardom with the Michel Gondry-directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). For his spectacular work, he won countless awards and nominations, most notably an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. The Oscar winning screenwriter also gained a number of praise for his efforts in Adaptation (2002) for director Spike Jonze, Human Nature (2002) and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002).
Aside from his outstanding work, Kaufman, who was listed No. 100 in Premiere's 2003 annual Power 100 List, is notorious for evading the press and in particular hating the idea of being interviewed on television. His first and only television interview was for Charlie Rose at the end of March 2004. Additionally, he is close-lipped about his own life and background.
Childhood and Family:
In New York, New York, Charles Stewart Kaufman, who would later be popular as Charlie Kaufman, was born on September 20, 1958 to a Jewish family. He relocated from Massapequa, New York to West Hartford, Connecticut at age 14 where he attended high school. An ardent reader, Charles wrote plays and created short films as a young student. Also a comedic actor, he showed off his talents by performing on school plays. After high school graduation, he briefly enrolled at Boston University, but quit to study film at New York University.
A native of New York, Charlie currently resides in Pasadena, California. He is the husband of Denise Kaufman, and has a daughter named Anna.
Being John Malkovich
A graduate from NYU’s film school, Charlie Kaufman knocked around NYC for a while struggling to break into entertainment industry before finally getting a break in 1991 when he was recruited as a staff writer for the Fox sitcom “Get a Life!,” starring Chris Elliot. He continued to pen comedy outlines and a variety of TV show episodes such as Fox’s “The Edge” (1992-1993), the CBS sitcom “The Trouble with Larry” (1993), “Ned and Stacey” (1995) and the short-lived ABC series “The Dana Carvey Show” (1996). He also served as a co-producer for the soon cancelled Fox comedy “Misery Loves Company” (1995).
Kaufman, however, did not come to wide attention until 1999 with the ingenious screenplay Being John Malkovich, about a puppeteer (John Cusack) who find outs a door in his office that permits him to enter the mind and life of John Malkovich (John Malkovich) for 15 minutes and then he attempts to turn the gateway into a small business. Directed by Spike Jonze and starring Cusack, Catherine Keener and Cameron Diaz, the comedy film became a festival darling before its theatrical release led to its prestige. For his efforts, Kaufman won a number of accolades, including a BAFTA, an Independent Spirit and a Chicago Film Critics Association for Best Original Screenplay. He also received an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
After Being John Malkovich became a surprise hit, Kaufman abruptly became a hot commodity. He rejoined Spike Jonze with Jonze as producer for Human Nature (2001), a comedy about a bushy woman who falls in love with a man with a tiny penis. Helmed by Michel Gondy, Human Nature premiered at Cannes and released theatrically in USA in 2002. The same year also saw the writer team with George Clooney in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, an adaptation of the presumably fictionalized and ludicrous autobiography of game show producer and host Chuck Barris, which marked Clooney’s directorial debut.
But, it was the Spike Jonze-helmed Adaptation (2002), a movie version of a best-selling novel by Susan Orlean, that again garnered Kaufman with countless recognition. In addition to earning his next Oscar and Golden Globe nods, he also won such awards as a BAFTA Film, a Central Ohio Film Critics, a Chicago Film Critics Association, a Florida Film Critics Circle, a Golden Satellite, an Online Film Critics Society, a Boston Society of Film Critics, a New York Film Critics Circle, a Toronto Film Critics Association, a San Diego Film Critics Society and a Southeastern Film Critics Association for Best Screenplay, Adapted. Moreover, Human Nature, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Adaptation earned Kaufman a 2002 National Board of Review for Best Screenplay. His brilliant efforts in the latter two also handed Kaufman a Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Writer.
Kaufman reached the zenith of his fame in 2004, when he wrote the screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a second film with director Michel Gondry. The film, which cast Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as a couple of lovers who shocking breakup leads them to a company that can wipe away agonizing memories, made a strong impression and received critical raves. As a result, Kaufman collected a number of awards and nominations and, most notably picked up honors for Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTA Awards, the Writers Guild of America Awards, the National Board of Review Awards, the London Critics Circle Film Awards, the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards and, eventually, the Academy Awards. Kaufman also took home the prestigious PEN American Center 2005 prize for screenplay for the film.
Kaufman is schedule to make his debut as a director with his upcoming project, Synecdoche, New York (2007), a drama which tell the story of a tormented playwright who is forced to cope with numerous women in his life. The film will star Academy Award winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams.