Prolific Hollywood director and producer Richard Donner died on July 5, Variety reported. The movie man’s helming credits included some of the most iconic movies of the ’70s and ’80s, such as “Superman,” “The Goonies,” and “Lethal Weapon.” At the time of his passing, Donner was 91 years old, with the cause of death still to be determined.
Fans may not know that Donner — who originally hailed from the Bronx in New York — began his career in television, before segueing into film with 1976’s “The Omen,” according to Fox News. However, it wasn’t until 1978 that Donner became a household name, after his “Superman” film broke box office records. Per Forbes, the blockbuster grossed more than $300 million, far outstripping its more modest budget of $55 million. It went on to net three Oscar nominations and an Academy Award for its visual effects — but more importantly, it set the precedent for a superhero franchise that dominates the big screen today. Donner was also responsible for launching actor Mel Gibson’s career, when the “Braveheart” star made it big after appearing in 1987’s “Lethal Weapon,” a franchise entirely directed by Donner (via Variety). It’s safe to say that Donner was a force in the movie biz, and his death has left a giant hole. Keep reading to hear how the industry is reacting to his passing.
Hollywood mourns Richard Donner
Hollywood is officially in mourning over Richard Donner’s death, with A-listers sharing tributes in the wake of his passing. “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres,” legendary director Steven Spielberg said in a statement to Variety. “Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favorite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and — of course — the greatest Goonie of all.” Mel Gibson, who shot to fame in “Lethal Weapon,” echoed Spielberg’s words. “Oh the things I learned from him!” Gibson shared, per Variety. “He was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him … I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom.” Likewise, Sylvester Stallone told Variety that he’d loved working with Donner on 1995’s “Assassins.” Stallone added, “He was a man’s man, extremely talented!”
While the movie industry reflects on Donner’s tremendous legacy, aspiring newbies have his words to remember him by. When asked in a TV Archive interview what advice he would give to up-and-comers, Donner said (via Hollywood Reporter), “Direct anything you can get your hands on, even if it’s traffic. Direct, direct, direct, direct. Keep busy, keep honing your work, so when your opportunity comes, you’ll be ready.” No doubt Donner will forever remain a source of inspiration in Hollywood and beyond.
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