- Text by HUCK HQ
Back in 1991, Spike Jonze was the punk kid making off-the-wall skate videos, letting the Gonz loose on Southern California in a Cadillac filled with hard liquor and underage drinkers for Blind Skateboard’s Video Days. Last night, the maverick director walked off stage at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, clutching the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Her, which he both wrote and directed.
In a touch over twenty years, Spike Jonze has gone from the wacky outsider to art house auteur, critical success and Oscar-winner. And he’s done it all without losing any of the qualities that made us love him from day one: his offbeat view of the world, his sense of humour, surreal vibes, imagination and overflowing creativity.
Both Huck, and our sister mag Little White Lies, have been huge fans of Spike since day one. To congratulate him on his incredible Oscar success, here are a few of our favourite bits of Jonze magic from our archives.
The Spike Jonze Tribute
Way back in Huck 18 we caught up with Spike for a whole issue celebrating his unique approach to filmmaking. In a special tribute Mark Lewman – who co-founded Dirt magazine with Spike and Andy Jenkins – reminds us just why he’s irreplaceable:
“He talked Christopher Walken into a flying harness. He got Björk to orchestrate a musical in a tyre shop in 110-degree weather. He’s set people on fire, had Nic Cage soaking in a mosquito-infested swamp, and went incognito as a sidewalk street dancer to test an idea. He’s worked with the world’s greatest puppeteers (Malkovich), a pack of live dogs (Weezer), and high explosives (Lakai). He’s built the world’s best kid’s fort, given stickers to the president of the United States, and destroyed a Gap store using a motorcycle and a mini van. He’s made a life out of making hard things look easy and making crazy things look fun. In short, he’s built a name for himself making the whole thing up as he went along. From what I’ve observed, he’s done it all by employing the following holy trinity of operating principles:
1. Stay naïve.
2. Be confident.
3. Always keep moving.”
For more reasons why Spike is the man, read the full tribute here.
Spike Jonze: The Huck interview
Huck spoke to the legendary director about films, skateboarding and the fact that ‘doing’ beats ‘talking’, during the release of Where The Wild Things Are.
What were you like as a kid?
Um… [Exhales] I don’t know.
What’s an average day like for you?
I don’t know… Um. Er… I don’t know. I have a very fortunate… Like, I actually do feel like, as far as being privileged, I feel really privileged in terms of my life now, because I feel like I have the kind of job that I can kind of make anything. Like anything I’m interested in can become what I’m working on. And anything I’m working on, I’m interested in. So it’s sort of like… But I don’t differentiate between ‘this is a job’ and ‘this is what I’m doing for fun’. It’s sort of all simultaneous. And I don’t want to differentiate between ‘this is work that I’m getting paid for’ and ‘this is work that I’m not getting paid for’. It’s all the same.
Do you think your skate vids influenced your film style?
I’m sure, I’m sure they have. I don’t know how but I think it’s all, it feels, it all feels, like, I’m not sure… I don’t know. Do you think they have?
Not sure – that’s why we asked!
Okay. Then I don’t know.
So what do you think about the language of skate vids?
I definitely can… I mean, there’s certain things that… The way we filmed ‘Sabotage’, the Beastie Boys video, is the same way we filmed skate videos. Me and my friends driving around LA without anyone giving us permission to do anything and just, ‘Go over there, I’ve got a camera’. I tell my friend to go do this and that, you know… ‘Slide off the hood of a car!’ You know, it’s just… There are things that we shoot that are very much in that spirit. You know, with skate videos it’s you and your friends in a car and the equipment you can carry in that car. And I still shoot stuff like that, I like to shoot stuff like that when the idea’s right.
Click here to read the full Spike Jones interview from Huck 18.
The Little White Lies interview
Her is a highly introspective film by a highly introspective guy. Huck’s sister mag, Little White Lies, got up close and (too?) personal with the cherished American director. Here are some of our favourite bits:
LWLies: Rewatching Adaptation recently, I paused it to make coffee. While doing so I started having a conversation in my head with a man I am interested in. And then I joined the dots. Your films are about exactly that: the neurotic, fantastical voice in our heads. Is that a fair assessment?
Jonze: I’ve never thought about it like that but I love it. It’s more than fair, and it makes me aware of something I thought we all did anyways. I assumed we all live partially in our fantasy world or in the conversations we’re having in our head or the anxiety loops we get stuck in. Is that not true?
I would say so.
Well, at least there’s two of us then.
Madcap Shorts: Rockafeller Skank – The Spike Jonze audition
Spike drops the moves, busts some heavy grooves and freaks the fuck out of passersby on Hollywood Boulevard in this hilarious spoof audition for Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank. His character is one of Jonze’s many alter egos, Richard Koufey, the leader of the Torrance Community Dance Group.
See more of Spike’s Madcap Shorts in the Huck 42 Playlist.
Check out all of Huck’s Spike Jonze content. Stay locked for more!