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Barry Sonnenfeld Explains Why Justin Bieber Is an Alien

Director/producer Barry Sonnenfeld attends the
Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

In the previous two Men in Black movies, the MiB video surveillance zoomed in on famous people who were in fact aliens (or suspected aliens): In the first film, the list included Isaac Mizrahi, Danny DeVito, Sylvester Stallone, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg. In MiB3, which opens this weekend, the Men in Black are monitoring new celebr-E.T.s (trademark ours), including Lady Gaga (of course), Justin Bieber, the Dalai Lama, Shaun White, and Tim Burton. So when Vulture ran into director Barry Sonnenfeld at the premiere party on the Intrepid flight deck on Wednesday, we had to ask: What makes these people aliens?

“This will get me into trouble,” Sonnenfeld laughed. “But my theory behind Justin Bieber is that he’s from Canada.” The director then explained a larger theory behind aliens in Canada, in which an undisclosed alien species was planning to come down and live in the U.S., and therefore sent spies here – but when they tried to transmit the data back to their home planets, “3 percent of it got scrambled in the transmission” so the settlers got the wrong coordinates and ended up in Canada instead. “Canadians are 97 point something percent like Americans,” he joked, “except that they’re way too nice and if you go into their homes, you’ll go, ‘Interesting! Fireplace in the bathroom.’” Therefore, he said, certain Canadians are quite possibly aliens.

Anyone who is too good at sports is also a suspect alien. “There was a Chinese seven-foot basketball player, Yao Ming, who is retired now,” Sonnenfeld noted. “But how many Chinese people are over seven feet tall?” David Beckham is also an alien “because he’s too good of a soccer player to be anything but.” And Shaun White is doubly on the Men in Black radar for his red hair (“That gets you halfway there,” Sonnenfeld joked) and his boarding skills. “He’s just good to be human,” Sonnenfeld said. “He’s using anti-gravity techniques.”

Burton might seem like an alien, but despite his presence on the board, the MIB aren’t sure about him. “He knows enough aliens that they keep surveillance on him,” Sonnenfeld said. “He may be procreating with an alien,” meaning Helena Bonham Carter. “I’m not saying she is an alien,” he clarified, “but the Men in Black aren’t sure [about her].”

It should also be noted that any celebrity called an alien in the film is done so with their blessing — they even get to approve their alien names. “I like that Lady Gaga’s alien name is also Lady Gaga,” Sonnenfeld said. “And the funny thing about Barbra Streisand is the alien name I came up with for her was Babs of Newtonia, and she said, ‘That won’t work. It’ll sound like I’m supporting Newt Gingrich.’ So we had to take the word ‘Newt’ out of her alien name, and I respected that totally.”

Barry Sonnenfeld on Bieber, Gaga, and MIB3