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Singer, Bryan (b. 1965)  
 
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Bryan Singer is a leading contemporary American director and producer of motion pictures and television programs.

Working within such popular genres as film noir and science fiction, he challenges viewer expectations by overturning standard narrative formulae and by developing exceptionally complex characters. In his films, he consistently emphasizes the fluidity and ambiguity of all identity categories, including those pertaining to gender and sexuality.

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A gay Jewish man, he is acutely aware of the difficulties encountered by minorities. Therefore, many of his projects have been concerned with individuals and groups who have been stigmatized because of perceived differences from those who assume the authority to define what is normal. His X-Men (2000) and X-2 (2003) have achieved mainstream commercial success while simultaneously enjoying cult status among audiences.

Origins: Childhood and Adolescence

Bryan Singer was born on September 17, 1965 in New York City. At the age of two months, he was adopted by Norbert Singer, a corporate credit manager for Maidenform Company (a manufacturer of women's apparel), and Gloria Sinden, later a prominent environmental activist. He grew up in suburban New Jersey, primarily in the affluent communities of Princeton Junction and Lawrenceville.

Although troubled by the divorce of his parents when he was twelve years old, he remained close to both of them. In most of his movies, he has given small but noteworthy roles to his father and mother, as well to his stepmother, Mildred Singer.

While acknowledging the strong emotional foundation that Norbert Singer and Grace Sinden provided, he often has indicated that his status as an adopted child profoundly impacted his view of the world. In particular, he has related his fascination with concepts of identity to the mystery surrounding his origins. In an interview with Ruthe Stein, Singer indicated that he knows virtually nothing about his biological parents, except for the fact that his father lives in England. Thus, as he explained to Michael Joseph Gross, "There's this other heritage that could be anything."

From an early age, Singer was very aware of the factors that made him different from other children. In addition to being adopted, he was an only child, growing up in a neighborhood in which most families had numerous offspring. Furthermore, he and his family were the only Jews in a predominantly Catholic area.

On numerous occasions, Singer has emphasized that he was an awkward boy who was picked on by other children and who constantly challenged the authority of teachers and other adults. He has described himself as having been "kind of a dork" and "a really annoying kid."

Yet, although sometimes feeling isolated, Singer established during his childhood and adolescence close and enduring relationships. Among his early friends were writer Christopher McQuarrie, who has provided the screenplays for several of Singer's films, including Usual Suspects (1995) and Valkyrie (2008), and actor Ethan Hawke, who starred in the short film Lion's Den (1988).

Youthful Filmmaking Endeavors

By the age of twelve, Singer already had demonstrated a passionate interest in and an exceptional talent for photography. In conversation with Joyce Persico, Norbert Singer recalled of his son, "He was always fooling around with photography. He had a camera, zoom lens and a dark room." When he was thirteen, he begin making 8 mm. and 16 mm. movies in his backyard and garage, often assisted by Christopher McQuarrie, who persuaded his father's friends to appear in the productions.

Singer and McQuarrie experimented with a wide variety of themes and genres--including war films, staged with props acquired at an Army/Navy store; sci-fi stories, inspired by Star Trek; and even precocious examples of film noir, foreshadowing Usual Suspects.

Singer regards his current film work as a logical extension of his youthful endeavors. In an interview with Dayla Alberge, he stated, "My goal is to move the entire crew and cameras with the same agility that I did with my 8mm camera as a boy."

By 1984, when he graduated from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Singer had made over twenty movies, ranging in length from two to forty-five minutes. Despite this practical experience and his determination to become a movie director, he was rejected by all the university film programs to which he applied because of his poor grades. With a cumulative grade point average of only 1.9, Singer was ranked at the very bottom of his class.

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Bryan Singer in 2006.
  
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