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Iconic British filmmaker Ken Russell died Sunday, Nov. 27 at the age of 84.
Russell’s friend, novelist and columnist, Norman Lebrecht, said a family friend informed him of the director’s death on Sunday morning. Russell reportedly died peacefully in his sleep after a series of stroke, according to the BBC.
Here are 5 things to know about the eccentric director.
1) His final full-length film, The Fall Of The Louse Of Usher, was released in 2002. “I know I’ll be the laughing stock of the world but I don’t care,” Russell, who also appeared in the movie, said at the time. “I’m due for a renaissance, so I’m going to launch my own with this film. It’s about time I became a cult.”
2) Two weeks ago, it was announced that his controversial religious drama The Devils would be released on DVD. The 1971 film, which caused outrage among critics and audiences because of its plot which was based on Aldous Huxley‘s novel and saw Vanessa Redgrave‘s Sister Jeanne develop an erotic obsession with Oliver Reed‘s character priest Urbain Grandier.
3) Russell was nominated for a best director Oscar in 1971 for his 1969 film Women in Love. The film, which also scored him a Golden Globe nomination in the same category, again starred Oliver Reed, as well as British actors Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson (who won the best actress Academy Award for her performance).
4) After years of absence in the entertainment industry, he made his public return on Britain’s Celebrity Big Brother in 2007. Russell found it difficult to get funding for his films after a series of controversial releases were dismissed by critics and audiences in the 1990s. But, he tried his hand at reality, though lasted only four days before quitting the show due to a disagreement with fellow player, the late Jade Goody.
5) Russell was about to get back into the directing chair. Russell’s widow, Elize, told the BBC that he had recently signed on to direct a musical feature film version of Alice and Wonderland. Elize said he was already working on the script and casting, adding “he was keeping himself very busy.”
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