Hollywood has lost another legend. Jonathan Demme, who gained acclaim for directing movies like The Silence of the Lambs, passed away Wednesday in Manhattan from complications from esophageal cancer, his publicist, 42 West, confirmed to NPR.
Jonathan was perhaps best known for adapting Thomas Harris' novel The Silence of the Lambs for the big screen in 1991. The movie would earn him the Academy Award for Best Director. He also received notoriety for directing films like Philadelphia, The Manchurian Candidate remake in 2004, and Rachel Getting Married.
In addition to his cinematic work, Jonathan made important contributions to capturing music on film, including the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, Kenny Chesney's Unstaged livestream performance, and Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, which captured the end of Justin Timberlake's world tour.
Coincidentally, Jonathan's final project will actually air on FOX Wednesday night. He directed an episode of the event series Shots Fired, which explores the aftermath of two racially-charged shootings in a small (fictional) North Carolina town. Shots Fired will pay tribute to the late director with a memoriam end card, according to Deadline. “We mourn the passing of Jonathan Demme,” series creators Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, remembered Jonathan in a statement to Just Jared Wednesday. “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. 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," she said. "JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy. Love him so much.”
Tom Hanks won his first Best Actor Academy Award for playing Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia. “Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living,” Tom said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “He was the grandest of men."
More tributes from Jonathan's famous fans are pouring in following his death.