Hollywood Reacts to Jonathan Demme's Death
Jodie Foster, Barry Jenkins, Beau Willimon, Alec Baldwin, Ron Howard, Edgar Wright, Bryan Fuller and more paid tribute to the notable filmmaker.
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning filmmaker of The Silence of the Lambs, has died of esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease. He was 73.
"I am heart-broken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you'd have to design a hurricane to contain him," said Jodie Foster in a statement. "Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative. Just as passionate about music as he was about art, he was and will always be a champion of the soul. JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy, love him so much."
"My man Demme was the kindest, most generous. A MASSIVE soul," said director Barry Jenkins, who met him while promoting Moonlight. "He lived in love. And rests in peace."
Beau Willimon reflected, "I only worked with him once - he was just like his films: brilliant, curious & original. RIP Jonathan Demme - a truly great filmmaker."
"This loss hurts deep," wrote PBS host Tavis Smiley, who shared photos of himself "with my abiding friend and brother beloved" from Standing Rock. "Not a kinder soul has ever lived."
Demme 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."
Kate Barker-Froyland, director of the Demme-produced Song One, remembered her friend: "JD was one of the most generous and ebullient people I have ever known. His work inspired me and his spirit did too. He cared deeply about the art of filmmaking and the artistic vision of a director. But most of all he cared about people and telling their stories in the truest way. Those are lessons that continue to shape me both as a director and as a person. I miss him so much already."
Fellow Song One producer Thomas Froyland added: "JD was a genuine visionary: A remarkable talent who spent his limitless energy to nurture budding talent and fight for justice. He was the loveliest man to have in your corner and the greatest protector you could wish for as a young producer. It was an honor to call him a friend."
Demme, a member of the DGA since 1976, served on the guild's President's Committee on Film Preservation. Said DGA president Paris Barclay: "Losing iconic director Jonathan Demme – a consummate craftsman who mastered all that he endeavored – is devastating for us. In his seminal work The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the DGA and Academy Awards, Jonathan set the template for modern psychological thrillers, drawing masterful performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. He pushed boundaries again with Philadelphia, emotionally bringing to public consciousness the impact of AIDS in a searing, yet humanistic way. But Jonathan also had a lighter, comedic side which shined through in hits like Married to the Mob, and his global quest for truth and love of music were reflected in his renowned documentaries and concert films like the groundbreaking Stop Making Sense. Few shared that kind of diversity – always at the top of his game in any genre."
In a statement, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis recognized the role that Demme's work on Philadelphia played in raising awareness of people living with HIV and AIDS.
"Jonathan Demme's direction of Philadelphia played an important role in raising awareness and changing the national conversation around HIV and AIDS," Ellis said. "As one of the first major films to address this crisis, Demme broke ground by humanizing real struggles of people living with HIV and changed hearts and minds in the process."
Added Mary Steenburgen: "Jonathan Demme came into my life when he directed me in Melvin and Howard. I won an Oscar for that role and I can't imagine that having happened with any other director. He was pure magic. Brilliant technically but he never let that make him isolated. He included everyone on that set in the making of the movie in the most edgy, thrilling, wildly collaborative way. He did the same thing in Philadelphia. And, there, we never forgot for a moment that that film could change the experience of being HIV positive in this country and it did. The heartbeat and the integrity of it began with Jonathan's goodness and sense of justice. I'm so proud to have been in it."
Said Veena Sud, for whom Demme directed episodes of The Killing and the upcoming Seven Seconds: "Jonathan’s enduring spirit as an artist and as a humanist touched so many generations of storytellers, myself included. Like no one else I’ve ever known, Jonathan deeply honored the life in front of his camera and the human beings behind it. It was a blessing to work with Mr. Demme and a great privilege to bask in the bright light he shone down on all of us."
Roger Corman, who starred in Demme's Silence of the Lambs, also shared in a statement, "My wife Julie and I were friends with Jonathan Demme for over 40 years. He started in Publicity at New World Pictures before writing and directing his early films for us, but really, he was a friend first and foremost. His greatness as a filmmaker and as an artist is only exceeded by his greatness as a human being. Our thoughts are with Jonathan's family."
Tom Hanks, who starred in Demme's Philadelphia, took a moment on the red carpet before the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of his latest film The Circle on Wednesday (April 26) to remember Demme.
After the screening, Hanks' producing partner Gary Goetzman, who also produced The Circle, told the audience, "God bless Jonathan Demme."
See more reactions from Hollywood below.
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.— Barry Jenkins (@BandryBarry) April 26, 2017
I know now that this was also the last time I saw Jonathan Demme. Fitting that it was in an act of love and generosity. Such a kind man. https://t.co/qYUZqXz2NU— Barry Jenkins (@BandryBarry) April 26, 2017
REST IN PEACE, MR. DEMME pic.twitter.com/BCWo17WytR— Bryan Fuller (@BryanFuller) April 26, 2017
Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jonathan Demme. Admired his movies, his documentaries, his concert films. He could do anything.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) April 26, 2017
Too many great films to mention: Something Wild, Stop Making Sense, Silence Of The Lambs, Melvin & Howard, among countless varied others. https://t.co/jU1pwXqlxq— edgarwright (@edgarwright) April 26, 2017
I only worked with him once - he was just like his films: brilliant, curious & original. RIP Jonathan Demme - a truly great filmmaker. pic.twitter.com/eoHwxffZL3— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) April 26, 2017
RIP Jonathan Demme. Director's director. Such love for his subject matter. Gorgeous moments and images devoid of vanity. One of the best.— Jay Baruchel (@BaruchelNDG) April 26, 2017
Jonathan Demme was a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague. I've known very few like him. He will be missed https://t.co/wQv5QRqHoN— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) April 26, 2017
I'm devastated to hear about Jonathan Demme's death. He was one of the greatest filmmakers I ever worked with. A total class act. #fb— Ira Deutchman (@nyindieguy) April 26, 2017
Often on tour I'll watch Jonathan Demme's "Heart of Gold" to remind me of what performance is about. Demme was a one of a kind filmmaker.— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) April 26, 2017
Ted Demme and I were worried about making The Ref when his uncle Jonathan Demme said something profound: "Stop talking and start shooting."— Denis Leary (@denisleary) April 26, 2017
Jonathan Demme was a great man. Working with him was one of the greatest honors of my life. No one worked w more love and rigor. I love him.— Nick Westrate (@westratenick) April 26, 2017
One of the greats. An eclectic and innately curious film maker, Demme's work was as deep as the sea. RIP Jonathan Demme— Michael Chiklis (@MichaelChiklis) April 26, 2017
RIP Jonathan Demme. A legend! "Something Wild"; "Married To The Mob"; "Silence of the Lambs"; "Swimming to Cambodia"! Corman movies!— Michael Showalter (@mshowalter) April 26, 2017
Over here on E Street, we're deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jonathan Demme.— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) April 26, 2017
He was an inspiration for me, a beautiful filmmaker and a great spirit.— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) April 26, 2017
Always smiling, always involved with the world and always pushing you to go for your best. He'll be deeply missed.— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) April 26, 2017
- Bruce Springsteen
Oh no. Jonathan Demme. One of our great filmmakers one of the most beautiful souls on the planet. Another magical irreplaceable friend gone.— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) April 26, 2017
His contribution to Sun City was pivotal in getting Nelson Mandela released and ending the South African apartheid regime. He was a saint. https://t.co/97gziSHLgK— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) April 26, 2017
Happier times. I will always love you Jonathan Demme. pic.twitter.com/grZRknHClb— Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) April 26, 2017
So sad to learn of the death of one of my all-time favorite directors, the brilliant, humane Jonathan Demme. Silence of the Lambs & others.— Anthony Rapp (@albinokid) April 26, 2017
When I was 14, my vision of what film could be was exploded open by David Lynch's Blue Velvet & Jonathan Demme's undersung Something Wild— Anthony Rapp (@albinokid) April 26, 2017
Where do I begin..? Words just aren't enough with heartache like this. You, master of humanity. You, genius of storytelling. You, generous and warm man. You, special soul. You taught me so much about life and art and about standing up for what you believe. You made me better at my craft. And, the time I spent with you away from a camera and a stage made a better human out of me. You are truly irreplaceable. I will miss you so dearly, my sweet friend. I hope we meet again someday. I love you, JD. May you Rest In Peace. --Justin
A titan - RIP #JonathanDemme— Michael Urie (@michaelurie) April 26, 2017
RIP #JonathanDemme One of the greats!— Tony Goldwyn (@tonygoldwyn) April 26, 2017
Rest In Peace, JD...— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) April 26, 2017
Sad to hear that Jonathan Demme has passed.— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) April 26, 2017
RIP dearest Jonathan Demme. The world lost one of its purest, most loving and talented souls today. My heart is broken. I love you.— Christine Lahti (@ChristineALahti) April 26, 2017
I was just thinking yesterday about how few films are as perfect as "Silence of the Lambs." Thank you for all, Mr. Demme #RIPJonathanDemme— Bear McCreary (@bearmccreary) April 26, 2017
Oh man I'm just reading the news... so sad to have lost Director Jonathan Demme. He was truly one of the greats. Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/3W17PpZw5Q— Andy Signore (@andysignore) April 26, 2017
Jonathan Demme was an artist in every sense of the word. He was intelligent, talented, but above all, kind. Such an inspiration. Such a loss— Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) April 26, 2017
RIP Jonathan Demme. Silence of the Lambs is in my forever rolodex of nightmares & turns me into the terrified child I was when I 1st saw it.— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) April 26, 2017
Stop Making Sense still surpasses all live concert movies and most actual movies. It is still perfect. Thanks Jonathan Demme!— Josh Weller (@joshweller) April 26, 2017
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.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 26, 2017
Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme dies at 73 | Page Six. OMG.. 1 of the high points of my life working w/him https://t.co/85YNYjaL5s— Jill Hennessy (@JillHennessy) April 26, 2017
RIP Jonathan Demme. One of the greatest and kindest people ever to have worked behind the camera.— X AMBASSADORS (@XAmbassadors) April 26, 2017