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Bryan Singer

Singer at WonderCon 2006
Born Bryan Jay Singer
September 17, 1965 (1965-09-17) (age 44)
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Film director and producer

Bryan Singer (born September 17, 1965) is an American film director and film producer. Singer won critical acclaim for his work on The Usual Suspects, and is especially popular among fans of the sci-fi and comic book genres, for his work on the first two X-Men films and Superman Returns.


Early life

Singer was born in New York City, and was adopted by Grace Singer (née Sinden), an environmental activist, and Norbert Dave Singer, a corporate executive.[1] He grew up in a Jewish-American household in West Windsor, New Jersey. He attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (formerly just West Windsor-Plainsboro High School), graduating in 1984.[2] For college, Singer studied filmmaking for two years at New York's School of Visual Arts and later transferred to the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles.[3] Actors Lori and Marc Singer are his cousins. He is openly gay and has said that his life experiences of growing up as a minority influenced his movies.[4] He was diagnosed with dyslexia, but manages to enjoy reading short stories.[5]

Professional career

After graduating, Singer directed a short film called Lion's Den involving a number of friends, including actor Ethan Hawke whom he knew from his childhood in New Jersey[6] and editor John Ottman who he had met while working on a friend's short film.[7]

After a screening of Lion's Den, Singer was approached by someone who knew of a Japanese company that funded low-budget films. Singer wrote the concept for Public Access with high school friend Christopher McQuarrie, and fellow USC alumn Michael Feit Dougan wrote the first draft in ten days about a supposedly idyllic small town. Ottman again served as editor but this time also composed the score for the film. At the 1993 Sundance Film Festival the film was named as co-winner of the Grand Jury Prize.

While attending the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, Singer and McQuarrie began discussing an idea that McQuarrie had for a story where "five criminals meet in a police line-up". The film, The Usual Suspects, won a number of awards including the 1995 BAFTA Award for Best Film and Saturn Award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Writer McQuarrie won the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay and the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, composer/editor Ottman won the BAFTA Award for Best Editing and the Saturn Award for Best Music and actor Kevin Spacey won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1998, Singer directed Apt Pupil from a screenplay written by Brandon Boyce, another of his friends. The story, adapted from a Stephen King novella of the same name (collected in the book Different Seasons), tells of a young boy who develops a morbid fascination with a Nazi war criminal.

Singer was initially approached by 20th Century Fox to direct X-Men after directing The Usual Suspects, but not being a fan of comics and being unaware of the characters, Singer turned them down. However his friend, Tom DeSanto, a big fan of the comics and partner in his production company Bad Hat Harry Productions, eventually persuaded Singer to reconsider and, after reading the comics and becoming familiar with the characters, Singer signed on to direct. Rejecting all the scripts and storylines that were developed over a decade of failed production attempts, Singer developed the story for the film with DeSanto in a week and then worked on the script with writers Ed Solomon, Christopher McQuarrie, Joss Whedon, and finally David Hayter (who had started out as Singer's driver). Only Hayter received onscreen credit for writing the film. Singer won the 2000 Saturn Award for Best Direction for X-Men.

In early 2001, Singer was planning to direct Confessions of a Dangerous Mind with Johnny Depp in the lead role, from Charlie Kaufman's script based on the Chuck Barris book of the same name. However financial troubles delayed production and Singer had to move on. The film was later directed by George Clooney for Miramax Films with Sam Rockwell in the lead role. Singer has said that he was "very impressed" by Clooney's debut as a director, and the film itself.

In late 2001, Singer was planning to help DeSanto produce a new Battlestar Galactica television series for Studios USA (now NBC Universal Television Studio) and the FOX network. Singer was scheduled to direct the mini-series which would have served as a backdoor pilot for a potential series. Speaking to Variety in February 2001, Singer said he was "confident that the Galactica brand is a sleeping giant. It was a show I watched during its initial run, from the pilot to the final episode. The essence and the brand name is quite potent in a climate where there's a great deficit of sci-fi programming." Despite his enthusiasm, production delays caused by the September 11, 2001 attacks meant Singer had to drop out due to his commitment to direct X-Men 2. FOX then lost interest in Galactica and Studios USA took the project to the Sci Fi Channel and a different production team. This resulted in the new Battlestar Galactica 2003 mini-series and 2004 television series.

In June 2002 filming began on X2 in Canada with Singer again directing, this time from a screenplay written by David Hayter, Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty. In 2004, X2 was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, but lost to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

In 2002, having learned that Singer was a lifelong Star Trek fan, Patrick Stewart arranged for Singer to visit the set of Star Trek Nemesis and appear in the finished film as a Starfleet officer on the bridge of the Enterprise.

On November 16 2004, a new medical drama debuted on FOX called House, with Singer attached as an executive producer. He also directed the pilot and the third episode, then appeared in a brief cameo as himself in the twelfth episode.

In mid-2004, Singer was in negotiations to direct X-Men: The Last Stand for Fox. Fox and Singer could not meet an agreement and, after an extended détente, Singer was offered the chance to direct the new Superman film, which was ready to go. On July 19, 2004, Variety reported that Singer had signed on to direct Superman Returns for Warner Bros. In retaliation, Fox terminated their production deal with Bad Hat Harry Productions, Singer's production company.[8] Superman Returns was filmed in Australia in 2005, and was released on June 28, 2006. Singer claims that though he had not read the comics, he had always admired and identified with the character, citing the fact that he and Superman are both orphans. He instead based Returns on his love of the 1978 film made by Richard Donner.[9]

Before embarking on the Superman sequel, Singer openly discussed helming a smaller project going back to the days of thrillers The Usual Suspects and Apt Pupil. In late 2006, screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie presented to Singer a story that took place in World War II, Valkyrie. In the following months, the two collaborated on the project, an original thriller that would be a multi-character ensemble piece. In March 2007, the duo brought the project directly to United Artists partners Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, who immediately agreed to finance the film. The script is based on the actual events of German generals plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler during World War II. Singer invited Tom Cruise to take the lead role, which Cruise accepted. Filming began on July 19, 2007 in Berlin, and the movie was released on December 25, 2008.

Upon finishing Valkyrie at the end of 2007, Singer was scheduled to jump directly into the upcoming Superman sequel, which was to begin filming around March 2008. Attending the 2007 Saturn Awards along with Superman Returns writers Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and producer Gil Adler, Singer stated that the story had been locked down, and the first draft would be completed near the end of 2007. Plans for the sequel included more action sequences, an alien villain, and Singer's promise to "go all Wrath of Khan on it". Production has not begun, however, and plans for the movie are unclear.[10] In February 2009, Production Weekly listed it as "in development".[11]

In August 2009, Universal Pictures announced that Singer would direct and produce a big screen reimagining of the Battlestar Galactica television series of the 1970s, which would not draw any material from the recent SyFy Channel reimagined series.[12]

On September 10, 2009, it was announced NBC has partnered with Bryan Singer and Bryan Fuller to adapt Augusten Burroughs's Sellevision into a series. The one-hour dramedy, to be written by Fuller and directed by Singer, will focus on the inner workings of a fictional home shopping network, according to The Hollywood Reporter. [13]

At the premiere of James Cameron's Avatar on December 16, 2009, Singer confirmed that he was wrapping up a film called Jack the Giant Killer for Warner Brothers, and that he "signed on to do another X-Men First Class Origins picture, which is kind of cool." [14] [15] Singer direct alongside Antoine Fuqua the psychological thriller Prisoners, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Hugh Jackman and Leonardo DiCaprio.[16]


Feature films
Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
1988 Lion's Den Yes Short film
1993 Public Access Yes Yes Yes
1995 The Usual Suspects Yes Yes
1998 Apt Pupil Yes Yes
Burn Yes
2000 X-Men Yes Yes
2003 X2 Yes Yes Yes
2006 Superman Returns Yes Yes Yes
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman Yes Documentary
2007 Color Me Olsen Yes Short film
2008 Valkyrie Yes Yes
2009 Trick 'r Treat Yes
2011 Jack the Giant Killer Yes Forthcoming[17]
2012 Battlestar Galactica Yes Anticipated[18]
2012 Excalibur Yes Yes Rumored[19]
TBA X-Men: First Class Yes
Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
House Yes (2004) Yes Directed 3 episodes.
2005 The Triangle Yes Yes Miniseries
2006 The Science of Superman Yes TV documentary
2007 Football Wives Yes Yes Pilot
2007–09 Dirty Sexy Money Yes
2008 Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler Yes TV documentary
2012 Sellevision Yes Rumored[20]


  1. ^ Bryan Singer Biography (1965-)
  2. ^ Miller, Lynn. "More West Windsor Filmmaking Stars on the Horizon", West Windsor & Plainsboro News, December 15, 2007. Accessed December 15, 2007. "Two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School graduates are following in the footsteps of two other filmmakers from West Windsor, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie. Singer, Class of 1984, and McQuarrie, Class of 1986, have recently joined together for the filming of “Valkyrie,” a controversial film about Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the German Army officer who tried to do away with Hitler during World War II."
  3. ^ Weinraub, Bernard. "FILM; An Unusual Choice for the Role of Studio Superhero", The New York Times, July 9, 2000. Accessed November 27, 2007. "As a child, Mr. Singer grew up in Princeton Junction, N.J. His father, Norbert Singer, is a businessman and his mother, Grace, is an environmental activist and former state environmental official.... Mr. Singer attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for two years, and then transferred to the University of Southern California."
  4. ^ Stephen Applebaum. "Interview: Bryan Singer". BBC. Retrieved 2006-10-07. 
  5. ^ Robert David Jaffee (2006). "Jersey-raised director Bryan Singer lives a dream in bringing Superman back to the big screen". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  6. ^ John Ottman. "Projects - Lion's Den". Retrieved 01-02-2008. 
  7. ^ John Ottman. "Projects - Summer Rain". Retrieved 01-02-2008. .
  8. ^ Liza Foreman. "Fox breaks off film deal with helmer Singer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2004-08-06. 
  9. ^ Daniel Robert Epstein (May 3, 2006). "Bryan Singer director of Superman Returns". Retrieved 2006-10-07. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Production Weekly, issue #649, 2009-02-26
  12. ^
  13. ^ Eng, Joyce (September 10, 2009). "Bryan Fuller, Bryan Singer Team Up with NBC for Sellevision". TV Guide. 
  14. ^ MySpace - Avatar
  15. ^ Super Hero Hype - Bryan Singer Will Direct X-Men: First Class!
  16. ^ Leonardo DiCaprio Taking No 'Prisoners'
  17. ^ Fischer, Russ (September 23, 2009). "Bryan Singer Tackles Jack the Giant Killer For New Line". /Film. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  18. ^ Sperling, Nicole (August 13, 2009). "Bryan Singer to direct and produce 'Battlestar Galactica' movie". Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  19. ^ Fleming, Mike (August 20, 2009). "Singer Sticks Sword into "Excalibur" Redo". Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  20. ^ Schneider, Michael (September 9, 2009). "Fuller, Singer sell NBC on Burroughs". Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 

External links

Preceded by
Sidney J. Furie
Superman film director
Succeeded by
Richard Donner

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