‘Superman,’ ‘Lethal Weapon’ director Richard Donner dies – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
The filmmaker Richard Donner, who helped create the modern superhero blockbuster with “Superman” in 1978 and mastered the comedy comedy with the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, is dead. He was 91.
Donner died in Los Angeles on Monday, his family said through a spokesman.
Donner became famous with his first feature film “The Omen” from 1976. An unprecedented offer followed: $ 1 million to direct “Superman” in 1978. Donner channeled his love for the character into the film, repeatedly facing producers for the need for special effects that would convince audiences that a superhero can really fly. In the title role, Donner cast Christopher Reeve, who was associated with “Superman” for the rest of his life.
In the 21st century, the genre dominated the box office in the US and flourished overseas. The heads of Marvel Studios and DC Entertainment – producers of most of today’s superhero diet – both worked for Donner when they first started out in Hollywood.
Steven Spielberg, who produced The Goonies, wrote in a statement: “Dick was so good at his films and so gifted in so many genres. Being in his circle was like hanging out with your favorite coach, the brightest professor, the wildest motivator, the most lovable friend, the most loyal ally, and of course the greatest Goonie of all. He was quite a child. All heart. The whole time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his hoarse, heartfelt laugh will stay with me forever. “
Tributes also streamed on Twitter on Monday, including from “Goonies” star Sean Astin.
“Richard Donner had the biggest, booming voice imaginable,” wrote Astin. “He got attention and he laughed like no man has laughed before. Dick was so much fun. What I noticed about him as a 12 year old is that he looked after him. I love how much he took care of it. “
Director Kevin Smith tweeted: “Richard Donner made the devil the child in The Omen, invented the modern comic film with Superman and reinvented the buddy-cop film with Lethal Weapon. I met him last year on a project. Guy was a born storyteller. Thanks for all the flicks, Dick! “
Filmmaker Edgar Wright added, “Richard Donner’s big heart and exuberant charm shone through his films through the remarkable achievements of his cast, which is no easy task. You remember all of the characters in Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies, and more because Donner knew how to capture that magic on screen.
Wright said he only met Donner once, but said, “He was funny, charming, and so full of stories (and happy to answer my geeky questions).”
Donner followed “Superman” with an indie, “Inside Moves” in 1980 and “The Toy” with Richard Pryor in 1982. In 1985 he shot the children’s adventure classics “The Goonies” and “Ladyhawke”, which were to introduce him to his future Mrs. Lauren Shuler Donner.
The two married the following year. In 1993 they founded The Thunders Company, which has produced hits like “Deadpool”, “The Wolverine” and the “X-Men” franchise. Adjusted for inflation, his films generated more than $ 1 billion in box office revenues.
“Let me tell you: Dick Donner’s director is really the sexiest man live,” said Shuler Donner in 2017 at a film academy in honor of the director.
She said that a director’s personality is often revealed on the screen.
“When you watch Dick’s films, Dick is fun, larger than life, loud, strong, with a big, squishy heart,” she said. “His confidence, his fearlessness, his humor are what adore him and he has wrapped himself around me like a protective cloak.
“The combination of learning how to make films from Richard Donner and falling in love with him has made me a better producer and a happier, more loving person personally and professionally,” she continued, calling “Ladyhawke” her “personal love story.”
“I’m the hawk and he’s the wolf,” she said.
In 1987, Donner cast Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as the mismatched police couple in the buddy-cop action film “Lethal Weapon.” The film was a huge hit, spawning several sequels and a TV show.
“He was a masterful storyteller,” Gibson said in 2017. “He was humble. He had this sign above that door that said, “Leave your ego by the door,” and there was no ego around him. It was really difficult for me to enter the room. “
Donner followed with the Bill Murray hit “Scrooged” in 1988 and “Lethal Weapon 2” the next year.
His other credits include “Maverick”, “Conspiracy Theory” and “Radio Flyer”.
Born Richard Donald Schwartzberg on April 24, 1930 in New York City, Donner changed his name when he set out to become an actor.
“Without the great director Marty Ritt, I would have been an unemployed actor now,” said Donner.
He remembered Ritt telling him, “Your problem is that you can’t direct,” and suggested directing instead.
“And because I hung out with him a bit, he said, ‘You’re my assistant on the next show,’ and that changed my life,” said Donner. “I never went back to acting.”
He began working on television, directing episodes of “Gilligan’s Island”, “Perry Mason” and “The Twilight Zone”.
Away from the camera, Donner was known for his extraordinary kindness and generosity. He covered tuition for a Goonies star (Jeff Cohen, now an entertainment attorney) and paid for life-saving rehab for another (actor Corey Feldman).
Donner told The Associated Press in a 1985 interview that the young cast was helping him through production.
“I never had children of my own and they became like my family,” he said.
Cohen, Feldman and Lethal Weapon star Rene Russo were among those who praised Donner for his friendliness at the 2017 Film Academy awards ceremony.
“You were charming and funny and funny and all these amazing (things) but what killed me is that you were nice,” Russo said. “You were so nice and that makes you the sexiest man in the world.”
Along with his wife, Donner was also a passionate animal rights activist, rescuing dozens of dogs over the years and fighting against killer whale captivity.
Although some of Donner’s films generated Oscar nominations, he was never nominated. But he got the chance to thank the academy – and its many friends and colleagues.
“This industry is my friend and for me the greatest gift in the world,” said Donner. “You are all my Oscar.”
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