'Snakes on a Plane' Director David R. Ellis Has Died at 60 Years Old
by Ethan Anderton
January 7, 2013
Sad news comes out of nowhere today as Deadline reports that Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis suddenly died early this morning in Johannesburg, South Africa. The cause of death has yet to be determined, but the director was busy at working on his adaptation of the Japanese anime movie Kite which was released back in 1998. Samuel L. Jackson just recently revealed he was reteaming with the director for that film, so this is surely shaking up Hollywood in more ways than one today. Ellis has become known as a director, but his career saw him take on work as an actor, stuntman and assistant director also.
After taking small roles in films like Rocky III, Ellis eventually found a lucrative career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator in movies like Smokey and the Bandit, Scarface, National Lampoon's Vacation, Lethal Weapon, Road House, Days of Thunder, and the live-action Jungle Book. Overlapping some of those movies, Ellis started working as a second unit director and assistant director in 1986 and worked on such films as Patriot Games, Forever Young, Clear and Present Danger, The Negotiator, Deep Blue Sea, and monster blockbusters like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Matrix Reloaded. Forthcoming films like R.I.P.D. with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, Winter's Tale with Will Smith and Russell Crowe and 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves also have his mark.
Finally, as a director, Ellis started out with the family sequel Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. But then he moved on to not-so-family-friendly films like Final Destination 2 (as well as The Final Destination), Snakes on a Plane and Shark Night 3D. Ellis didn't make Oscar caliber films, but he had a lot of fun in the B-movie horror genre. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing what he did with the material in Kite, especially with Samuel L. Jackson involved. This is truly some sad news, and our thoughts go out to all of Ellis' colleagues, friends and family in this rough time. Rest in peace, sir.