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Bryan Singer, director and producer of the X-Men films, The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns, Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler, and numerous other sci-fi, fantasy, history, and identity-oriented films, was born in New York City on this date in 1965. Singer is gay, Jewish, and adopted, and grew up “an awkward boy who was picked on by other children and who constantly challenged the authority of teachers and other adults,” according to Richard G. Mann’s article at the online GLBTQ Encyclopedia. “He has described himself,” continues Mann, “as having been ‘kind of a dork’ and ‘a really annoying kid.” Although he made more than twenty films in high school, his appalling grades excluded him from acceptance to any film schools after graduation, yet he persisted in developing his craft and his art. The Usual Suspects, 1995, was his breakthrough film: Shot in only 35 days with a $6 million budget, it earned four times its cost in its initial American release and landed two Academy Awards. “My goal is to move the entire crew and cameras with the same agility that I did with my 8mm camera as a boy.” —Bryan Singer