- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
Duncan Henderson, the unit production manager, assistant director and producer with credits including Dead Poets Society, Master and Commander, The Perfect Storm and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, has died. He was 72.
Henderson, who in addition to his production career served as a national board member at the DGA for 16 years, died Tuesday in Valencia, California, of pancreatic cancer, the guild announced.
“We will remember him for his strength of character and huge sense of adventure,” Henderson’s family said in a statement. “He was thoughtful and was a romantic. He always worked extremely hard to make his time with his family exceptional. He helped countless people and always did the right thing.”
Henderson’s agent, David Gersh, remembered him as “a gentleman in the truest sense of the word” who always asked about how other clients were doing when he called his agent. “He was a very straight shooter and he loved the business, and he loved making movies and he loved being a part of it all,” Gersh said.
Born and raised in Culver City, Henderson attended UCLA for his undergraduate education, where he was a member of the crew team, and USC for business school. He worked as a stockbroker before breaking into entertainment as a DGA trainee with the DGA-Producer Assistant Directors Training Program, where his first two projects were Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo.
Henderson’s son, Ian Henderson, says his father “rose through the ranks” as an assistant director (he worked as a second AD on Halloween II and True Confessions and first assistant director on Rocky IV, among other titles), then a production manager and becoming a unit production manager, on films including Dead Poets Society and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
After a short stint as an executive at Fox, Henderson returned to production and in the 1990s served as a producer or an executive producer on films including Deep Blue Sea, The Perfect Storm, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (for which he was also an additional first AD), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Poseidon, The Way Back, Battleship, Oblivion and Space Jam: A New Legacy. In 2004, he was nominated for an Academy Award with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World‘s best picture nod, which was a “career highlight,” says Ian Henderson.
The last film Henderson worked on was the latest Transformers, which has yet to be released.
Active in his union, Henderson served 10 terms on the Western AD/UPM council and was elected council chair, according to the DGA. After his election in 2005, Henderson also served eight consecutive terms on the union’s national board, served on the DGA’s negotiations committee in five negotiations cycles, including in 2020, and received the guild’s Frank Capra Achievement Award in 2020.
Upon receiving the Frank Capra Achievement Award, Henderson said his decision to participate more actively in the guild was “one of the best decisions I have ever made. It expanded the entire scope of my motion picture career.”
“No matter how massive the film, whether The Perfect Storm, Home Alone 2 or DGA and Academy Award-nominated features Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Dead Poets Society, Duncan was always available as a leader, a mentor and a friend. He gave the same wise counsel and thoughtful consideration to award-winning directors and the production assistant on her first industry job,” DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement. “It is difficult to overstate how much Duncan meant to the DGA and his fellow members.”
Beyond his work in entertainment, Henderson was a “world traveler” and loved spending time with his family, including six grandchildren and an extended family in Los Angeles, says his son. He also is survived by his wife, Michele, and his children, Jessica, Ian, Fiona and Ivy.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
‘He Went That Way’ Review: Jacob Elordi and Zachary Quinto in True Crime Misfire Awkwardly Stuck Between Genre Cracks
‘The Fabelmans’ Breakout Chloe East in Talks for A24 Thriller from Scott Beck, Bryan Woods (Exclusive)
Owen Teague Talks ‘You Hurt My Feelings’ and Meeting with Andy Serkis for the New ‘Apes’ Movie