Jonathan Demme, director of The Silence of the Lambs, dies at 73
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, has died in New York at the age of 73.
His publicist confirmed he died from complications from oesophageal cancer.
Born in 1944, Demme’s other features included Philadelphia, Something Wild and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.
Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for his performance in Philadelphia, told the Press Association Demme was “the grandest of men”.
He said: “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.”
Demme’s own Oscar was for best director for The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.
The second film to feature serial killer Hannibal Lecter, it is one of only three films to win the so-called “big five” Oscars.
As well as best director, the 1991 film was named best picture, won a screenplay prize and saw both of its lead actors honoured.
Demme also steered Mary Steenburgen to a best supporting actress Oscar for his 1980 film Melvin and Howard.
In recent years he worked with Anne Hathaway on Rachel Getting Married and directed Meryl Streep in both Ricki and the Flash and his 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
His most recent film, Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, showed Timberlake in concert in 2015.
Tributes flowed in from the film world:
British actress Thandie Newton, who worked with him on Beloved and The Truth About Charlie, said she was “deeply saddened” by his passing.
Actor-turned-director Ron Howard remembered Demme as “a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague”.
Clerks director Kevin Smith, also writing on Twitter, praised Demme for his “honest cinematic storytelling”.
Fellow film-maker Barry Jenkins, who directed the Oscar-winning Moonlight, wrote: “Met tons through the Moonlight run but my man Demme was the kindest, most generous. A MASSIVE soul. He lived in love. And rests in peace.”
Director Jim Jarmusch wrote: “Inspiring filmmaker, musical explorer, ornithologist (!), and truly wonderful and generous person.”
Author Stephen King tweeted: “Deeply sad to hear my friend, neighbor, and colleague Jonathan Demme has passed on. He was one of the real good guys. I miss you, buddy.”
Elijah Wood, star of the Lord of the Rings films, tweeted that he was “sad to hear” of the director’s death.
Edgar Wright, the British director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, said: “Admired his movies, his documentaries, his concert films. He could do anything.”
In a statement, the director’s publicist said: “Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.
“He died from complications from oesophageal cancer and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21.
“There will be a private family funeral. Any possible further plans will be announce later.
“In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL [Florida].”
Born Robert Jonathan Demme on New York’s Long Island, Demme began his directing career working for famed producer Roger Corman.
His earliest credits included Caged Heat, a thriller set in a women’s prison, and Crazy Mama, a road movie starring Cloris Leachman.