Sunday 25 February 2018

Tom Hanks and Jodie Foster lead tributes to acclaimed 'Silence of the Lambs' director who died following cancer complications

Anthony Hopkins is directed by Jonathan Demme in ‘Silence of the Lambs’
Anthony Hopkins is directed by Jonathan Demme in ‘Silence of the Lambs’

Jill Serjeant

Movie director Jonathan Demme, best known for 'The Silence of the Lambs', has died at the age of 73.

Demme, who also directed the Oscar-winning film 'Philadelphia', was suffering from esophageal cancer, publicist Annalee Paulo said. She said he died in New York yesterday morning surrounded by his family.

"Jonathan passed away in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife and three children.

"He died from complications from oesophageal cancer," she said.

Jonathan Demme. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP
Jonathan Demme. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

Demme's most recent film was the 2015 comedy "Ricki and the Flash" starring Meryl Streep as an ageing rocker.

New York-born Demme won the directing Oscar for the 1991 thriller 'The Silence of the Lambs', which also won Oscars for best picture and for its stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Demme's work was wide ranging, including comedy and thrillers to groundbreaking fare like 1993 film 'Philadelphia', which was one of the first mainstream Hollywood movies to tackle the Aids crisis.

He also directed concert and music documentaries for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Talking Heads.

Ms Paulo said the funeral for Demme would be private and the family had asked that donations be made to the group Americans For Immigrant Justice.

Jodie Foster and Tom Hanks have added their tributes to those pouring in.

Foster, who won an Oscar for her performance in the director's The Silence of the Lambs, has released a statement, revealing she is heartbroken by the news of Demme's death.

"I am heart-broken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you’d have to design a hurricane to contain him," the 54-year-old actress/director writes. "Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas.

"He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative. Just as passionate about music as he was about art, he was and will always be a champion of the soul. JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy. Love him so much."

Hanks, who picked up an Oscar for his role in Demme's Philadelphia and worked with the moviemaker on his directorial debut That Thing You Do!, is also remembering his friend and collaborator.

"Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living," Hanks wrote in a statement. "He was the grandest of men."

Meanwhile, Demme fans around the world have committed to mark his passing by watching The Silence of the Lambs on Wednesday evening.

Shortly after news of the 73-year-old's death broke, devotees flocked to Twitter to suggest a mass viewing party of his most celebrated movie. Demme won his only Oscar for directing the 1991 thriller, which starred Sir Anthony Hopkins as the murderous doctor Hannibal Lecter and Foster.

Demme's peers have also paid tribute to the filmmaker, with Ron Howard, Kevin Smith, Eli Roth, and Barry Jenkins among those who have honoured the late director.

Irish Independent

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