Jonathan Demme, director of The Silence of the Lambs, dies at 73


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Demme won the best director Oscar in 1992 for The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, has died in New York at the age of 73.

His publicist confirmed he died from complications from oesophageal cancer.

Born in 1944, Demme’s other features included Philadelphia, Something Wild and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

British actress Thandie Newton, who worked with him on Beloved and The Truth About Charlie, said she was “deeply saddened” by his passing.

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Actor-turned-director Ron Howard remembered Demme as “a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague”.

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Clerks director Kevin Smith, also writing on Twitter, praised Demme for his “honest cinematic storytelling”.

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The director’s publicist said: “Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.

“He died from complications from oesophageal cancer and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21.

“There will be a private family funeral. Any possible further plans will be announce later.

“In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL [Florida].”

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Both Demme and actress Jodie Foster won Oscars for The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs, the second film to feature serial killer Hannibal Lecter, is one of only three films to win the so-called “big five” Oscars.

As well as best director, the 1991 film was named best picture, won a screenplay prize and saw both of its lead actors honoured.

Demme also steered Tom Hanks to an Oscar in Philadelphia, while Mary Steenburgen won a supporting actress Oscar for his 1980 film Melvin and Howard.

In recent years he worked with Anne Hathaway on Rachel Getting Married and directed Meryl Streep in both Ricki and the Flash and his 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

His most recent film, Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, showed Timberlake in concert in 2015.

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Sir Anthony Hopkins (right) was also honoured for the 1991 film

Born Robert Jonathan Demme on New York’s Long Island, Demme began his directing career working for famed producer Roger Corman.

His earliest credits included Caged Heat, a thriller set in a women’s prison, and Crazy Mama, a road movie starring Cloris Leachman.

Elijah Wood, star of the Lord of the Rings films, tweeted that he was “sad to hear” of the director’s death, while Edgar Wright said he had “admired” all his work.

“He could do anything,” tweeted the British director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.


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