Filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who won an Academy Award for best director for The Silence of the Lambs, has died. He was 73.
Demme died at his Manhattan apartment on Wednesday of complications related to esophageal cancer, Leslee Dart, his publicist, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Demme was not averse to tackling strong subject matter: He directed Philadelphia, a mainstream film dealing with the AIDS crisis. He won acclaim for his direction of Melvin and Howard, an offbeat saga about a man who claimed to have given Howard Hughes a ride and later received $150 million in the reclusive billionaire’s will.
Demme’s talents were multiple and his subject matter diverse: He directed Swing Shift, starring Goldie Hawn as a woman working in a World War II defense plant. He shifted tones with dark comedy and oddball humor in Something Wild and Married to the Mob.
More recently, he directed an episode of Fox’s new series Shots Fired, which airs Wednesday night; the episode will pay tribute to Demme with an “in memoriam” end card.
“We mourn the passing of Jonathan Demme,” series creators Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood said in a statement. “He was a tremendous artist who shared our belief that art can change the world. He was a gift, and he made every one around him better. He taught us to care a little bit more, believe a little bit more and listen a little bit more. We will miss him.”
Other recent credits include an episode of Netflix’s upcoming series Seven Seconds, from Veena Sud. He also directed the 2016 documentary Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids and the 2015 Meryl Streep-starrer Ricki and the Flash. In addition, he directed two episodes of AMC’s The Killing — also from Sud — and the acclaimed 2008 film Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway.