Stephen Sommers

Actor, Director, Writer

3/20/1962 (59 years old)

A purveyor of old-fashioned popcorn entertainment, writer/director Stephen Sommers hit pay dirt with his effects-driven action spectacle The Mummy (1999). Born in Indianapolis and raised in St. Cloud, MN, Sommers left the Midwest behind to attend college in New York and Seville, Spain. After spending several years as a performer and band manager in Europe, Sommers returned to the United States to study in U.S.C. Film School's graduate program. Following his directorial debut Catch Me If You Can (1989), Sommers gained further Hollywood notice with his live-action adaptations of The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993) and Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994) for Disney. He moved to more grown-up action, and high-tech effects, with the Treat Williams ocean-liner thriller Deep Rising (1998), but the movie failed to make an impression at the box office. Sommers finally nabbed the Hollywood blockbuster brass ring, however, with his version of The Mummy (1999). Loosely updating the 1932 Universal Studios Boris Karloff chestnut with top-notch digital effects, Sommers' combination of flashy action, a monstrous, shape-shifting Imhotep, and amiably hunky hero Brendan Fraser won over the audience (if not all the critics), turning The Mummy into the first summer blockbuster of 1999. Sealing The Mummy's success, Sommers and his cast reunited for the sequel The Mummy Returns (2001). Heavily hyped and featuring a new little boy character to appeal to the young fry as well as an appearance by wrestling star The Rock as the Scorpion King, The Mummy Returns made a record-setting debut in early May 2001. Despite critical disdain for its chaotically amped-up special effects and paper-thin story, The Mummy Returns went on to become one of the biggest hits of the summer.