Sunday 17 November 2019

Everything you didn't know about director Jonathan Demme, who has died aged 73

By Francesca Gosling

His five-decade career saw him win the attention of the biggest names in film and music.

More than 25 years after it first came to the big screen, few movie fans can forget Anthony Hopkins’ chilling stare as he gazed at Jodie Foster through the thick glass wall in The Silence Of The Lambs.

The 1991 thriller spelled an Academy Award for director Jonathan Demme, securing his name in film-making history.

Kicking off his career with dark action drama Caged Heat in 1974, Demme continued his work right up to this year, putting his name to TV series Shots Fired.

He died on Wednesday aged 73 following a battle with oesophageal cancer. He was married to Joanne Howard and had three children.

Demme’s five-decade career saw him work with the likes of Anne Hathaway, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.

He became best known for hits such as Rachel Getting Married (2008), The Manchurian Candidate (2004) and Philadelphia (1993), as well as the Hannibal Lecter horror that scored him more than seven prestigious industry awards.

Demme was also a familiar face on-screen, appearing on US favourites such as Saturday Night Live and The Oprah Winfrey show, and in 2013 began a stint working on hit series The Killing.

His interest in music featured throughout his career as he staked his claim in the world of concert film-making, an experience that saw him collaborate with Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads and pop sensation Justin Timberlake last year.

Even after more than 40 years in the industry, he said his work on Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, resurrecting the singer’s 2015 global 20/20 tour, was still teaching him new tricks.

Years after vowing never to focus on the audience when recording concerts, he told a Billboard interview in December: “Justin has this particular relationship with the audience and the audience in this film became kind of a character, so oddly I, who never like to film audiences, wind up with a new movie that has a lot the audience in it.

“I’m thrilled by that dimension. Keep learning, baby.”

PA Media

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