Hollywood Pays Tribute to "Courageous" Director Lynn Shelton

Lynn Shelton - H - 2020
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Shelton's films were known for naturalistic acting, often-improvised dialogue and a focus on interpersonal relationships.

Lynn Shelton, a leading voice of the new American independent cinema movement who directed the intimate darlings Humpday, Your Sister's Sister and My Effortless Brilliance, died Friday at 54.

Following the news of her death, Hollywood filmmakers, showrunners and stars paid tribute to Shelton, who also was a prolific television director who worked on series including Mad Men, GLOW, Little Fires Everywhere and The Morning Show.

Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Liz Tigelaar and the rest of the Little Fires Everywhere cast and crew shared in a statement that their "hearts are broken today for the loss of our beloved director, friend, mentor and collaborator, Lynn Shelton."

"It doesn't seem possible that someone who was so vibrant, and who walked through this world with such immense passion, could suddenly be gone," the Little Fires collective continued. "Her undeniable talent and bold unique spirit were matched by her kind and genuine heart. Her light shone bright to anyone who was lucky enough to be in her orbit. We are sending love to her beautiful son, her family and all who are mourning the loss of our creative, thoughtful and beautifully artistic friend."

In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Shelton's partner, comedian Marc Maron, indicated that the director collapsed after having been ill for a week. "I loved her very much as I know many of you did as well," he wrote. "It's devastating. I am leveled, heartbroken and in complete shock and don't really know how to move forward in this moment."

Maron called Shelton a "beautiful, kind, loving, charismatic artist," adding that "her spirit was pure joy." He went on to say, "She made me happy. I made her happy. We were happy. I made her laugh all the time. We laughed a lot. We were starting a life together. I really can't believe what is happening. This is a horrendous sad loss."

Ava DuVernay shared how Shelton changed the fellow filmmaker's life "when she handed me the Directing Award at Sundance in 2012."

"She announced my name with pride. Handed it to me with love. Rooted for me long after. I can’t believe I’m typing this. Rest In Peace, Beauty. Thank you for your films. And for your kindness," DuVernay wrote on Twitter.

Judd Apatow tweeted, "Lynn Shelton was such an inspiration as a filmmaker and as a person. I finally got to work with her when she directed a bunch of episodes of Love and she was as brilliant as we hoped and everyone adored her. This was so sad. My condolences to her family and her loved ones."

Josh Trank also paid tribute to Shelton, describing her as a "total genius" and "original and courageous artist on every conceivable level."

"Her work is so inspiring. Humpday I saw at Sundance in 2009, and it was just so brave and wild. Everyone was floored. Heart breaking. Emitting so much love to her family and friends," the filmmaker added in his post. 

Mindy Kaling reflected on working with Shelton on The Mindy Project, saying she "loved actors and we loved her back." The actress continued, "She was a dream on set. Her lovely, sunny energy was infectious and actors always drifted to video village between takes to be around her. She had such a quiet power and I will miss her."

Minnie Driver acknowledged the deaths of both Shelton and actor Fred Willard, who died Friday, writing, "Geniuses. Kind, dear geniuses. How lucky we were to have them."

See more reactions to Shelton's death below.