"Thanks for stopping by Earth for a while." -Olivia Wilde. Another legendary actor has passed away today. We're sad to report the death of the one-and-only Gene Wilder, who died at the age of 83 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. Wilder was nominated for two Oscars and two Golden Globes, but never won either, despite writing and starring in some of the most memorable and beloved films of all-time. He's most known for playing Willy Wonka in the classic 1971 musical version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (one of my favorites), and he worked closely with Mel Brooks for years, starring in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. This is another tough loss to entertainment, but he will be remembered fondly.
This is a rough week for cinema. Over the weekend, two outstanding, profound filmmakers passed away - American filmmaker Michael Cimino, and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Both of them have made a number of fantastic films that have rightfully earned a place in cinema history, and many cinephiles are feeling the loss of these two great storytellers. Cimino died on July 2nd at the age of 77 at his home in Los Angeles (via CNN). Kiarostami died on July 4th at the age of 76 of cancer at his home in Paris, France (via BBC). Both are being remembered in beautiful, heartfelt ways on social media (a few samples included below) and you can remember them as well by watching their films. Especially any of them you haven't seen.
Horrible news to report today. Actor Anton Yelchin has died in a freak car accident at his home today in California. He was 27 years old and already very accomplished, with lead roles in quite a few films. Reports indicate that he was killed by his own car, which rolled down a steep hill in neutral and pinned him against a brick pillar. "It appears he had exited his car and was behind it when the vehicle rolled down a steep driveway," the LAPD said in a statement (via Variety). Yelchin was born in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union, and his family moved to the United States when he was just six months old. He started his acting career at age 9, and has been landing prominent roles for the last 10 years. What a tragedy, so sad to hear.
Some sad news to report on the same morning as the Academy Awards nominations. Actor Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69, after a short fight with cancer. This news also comes a few days after the death of legendary musician and actor David Bowie, who also passed away from cancer at age 69. Rickman was already a succesful actor on stage in the 1980's, but rose to prominence with unforgettable on screen roles like Hans Gruber in the original Die Hard, the Metatron in Dogma, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest and of course Snape from the Harry Potter series. The BBC reports the news directly from his family. "The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends."
It has been officially confirmed that filmmaker Wes Craven has passed away in California. Craven died at his home in Los Angeles of brain cancer at age 76, according to Variety. He last directed the horror sequel Scream 4 in 2011, but there were rumors that Scream 5 might have been in the works as well. Craven made his feature directing debut with the controversial horror The Last House on the Left in 1972, and he's been shaking up and pushing the horror-thriller genre forward ever since. Aside from the Scream series, perhaps Craven's most successful horror franchise is the A Nightmare on Elm Street series which he started in 1984.
There are only a handful of movie producers that have ever come to be known by name in the general public, perhaps Jerry Bruckheimer, Avi Arad, Albert Broccoli or Saul Zaentz. One of those iconic producers is Jerry Weintraub, who produced a number of Hollywood features including the original The Karate Kid trilogy, the new Ocean's Eleven trilogy with an amazing ensemble cast, the comedy Oh, God!, the comedy Vegas Vacation, Soldier, the new Nancy Drew, Barry Levinson's Diner. Mr. Weintraub passed away from a heart attack on Monday, July 6th at the age of 77 at his home in Palm Springs, reported via Deadline. He was producing David Yates' Tarzan and was also an executive producer on HBO's new comedy The Brink.
Tragic news to report about one of our favorite composers. On the morning of Monday, June 22nd, a single-engine S-312 Tucano MK-1 airplane piloted by composer James Horner crashed in California. Horner was the only one on board and perished in the accident. He was an experienced pilot and loved flying. Many major media outlets are now confirming that the missing pilot was indeed James Horner, despite confusion on Monday evening regarding whether he was actually piloting the plane registered to his name. Horner won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1998 for Titanic, and also won for Best Original Song. He has been nominated 7 other times, including at age 34 after writing the score for James Cameron's Aliens.
"I have always tried to be unconventional." The great Christopher Lee has passed away. The legendary English actor was 93 years old, and had been appearing in movies & television for over 70 years, taking on iconic roles like Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein, and eventually Scaramanga, Count Dooku, and Saruman. He was probably best known for his height, standing at 6' 5" tall, towering over most other actors on set. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force during World War II and took up trying to work in acting after the war. His big breakout was playing the monster in the Hammer film The Curse of Frankenstein from 1957.
Sad news to report. Academy Award winning cinematographer Andrew Lesnie passed away suddenly, and has died at the age of 59. Born in Sydney, Australia, Lesnie went on to work closely with Peter Jackson as his Director of Photography on the three Lord of the Rings movies. He also went on to work on King Kong and The Hobbit trilogy, as well as I Am Legend, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Last Airbender and Russell Crowe's The Water Diviner most recently. He won the Oscar for Return of the King back in 2002. Lesnie was a beloved member of this industry, with many speaking out about him through social media (including even Ian McKellen as seen below). Details are not yet available about his death; he was only 59 years old.
The U.S.S. Enterprise lost an irreplaceable member of her crew this morning: actor Leonard Nimoy, age 83, passed away in his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, CA from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Fans everywhere have mourned the actor's death, paying tribute with a proper salute on social media. It's as if his memory has beamed into the hearts of those that watched him as a child on the bridge of the Enterprise – and into the hearts of those that just discovered him. For those that loved and admired him, Leonard Nimoy was more than just a Vulcan called Mr. Spock. To many, he was the face of Star Trek.
After playing one of the most iconic sci-fi characters in the history of the genre, Leonard Nimoy, the man that everyone knows as Mr. Spock, has passed away. The New York Times reports the beloved actor of the Star Trek franchise, spanning from television to films, passed away this Friday morning in his home in Los Angeles at 83 years old. Nimoy had been hospitalized suddenly last week after a scare related to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and his wife Susan Bay Nimoy confirms that the end stages of the affliction finally took their toll. Of all the souls we've encountered in our travels, his was the most human. Read on.
Following the tragic passing of Robin Williams earlier this year, one of the filmmakers who directed the iconic comedian has left us as well. In a statement from ABC News President James Goldston, we've learned that director Mike Nichols has died at the age of 83, though no cause of death was revealed. Nichols was one of the most iconic directors to ever get behind the camera from his early work on classics like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate to recent provocative and acclaimed films like Charlie Wilson's War and Closer. Goldston added, "No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike."
We're always sad to report another death, and yet here we go again. Actor Richard Kiel, who stood 7-feet 2-inches tall hailing from Detroit, Michigan, has passed away at age 74. The news comes from TMZ.com (via THR) where they report that he also just broke his leg last week and was in a hospital in Fresno, California where he eventually passed away ("it's unclear if his death was connected to the leg injury"). Kiel is best known as the James Bond villain "Jaws", seen in Moonraker and The Spy Why Loved Me, but he also appeared in various roles or cameos in a number of other films alongside Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Gene Wilder. He was so tall, it was impossible to miss him. Toss in one of those Bond movies in his memory.
Not too long after the shocking death of comedian Robin Williams, another legendary comic has left this world. After being rushed to a hospital during a vocal chord surgery caused her to suffer cardiac arrest, Joan Rivers has passed away at age 81. Rivers was was in intensive care over the weekend, having been placed in life support and being kept in an induced coma. Just two days ago, daughter Melissa Rivers let everyone know, "My mother has been moved out of intensive care and into a private room where she is being kept comfortable," but it seems things took a bad turn as she confirmed her mother's death today.