Richard Donner, best known for directing The Goonies, the Lethal Weapon series, and the original Superman movie, has died.
The filmmaker passed away on Monday (July 5) at the age of 91, his wife, producer Lauren Schuler Donner, and his business manager have confirmed.
No cause of death has yet been given.
The director and producer began his career in television, working on shows including The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason and The Man From U.N.C.L.E, before making the move to the big screen in 1961 with the low-budget X-15.
His major movie breakthrough came with 1976's iconic horror The Omen.
Donner's other significant work included Superman — which featured the late Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel — in 1978 and the Lethal Weapon franchise, which paired Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as mismatched cop buddies.
He was also a celebrated producer, working on the likes of the Free Willy trilogy, X-Men and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Donner's last directorial feature was the 2006 action thriller 16 Blocks starring Bruce Willis. In December 2020, Donner confirmed he was to reteam with Gibson and Glover on a fifth Lethal Weapon movie.
He said at the time: “This is the final one.
“It’s both my privilege and duty to put it to bed. It’s exciting, actually… Hahaha! It’s the last one, I’ll promise you that.”
Following the news of Donner's passing, tributes pour in for the beloved director from all over Hollywood, including Spielberg, Gibson and Glover.
In a statement to Variety, Spielberg, who produced The Goonies, wrote, “Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres. 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. He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty laugh will stay with me always.”
Gibson, in a statement to Variety, said, “Donner! My friend, my mentor. Oh, the things I learned from him! He undercut his own talent and greatness with a huge chunk of humility referring to himself as ‘merely a traffic cop.’ He left his ego at the door and required that of others. He was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him. If we piled up all the good deeds he did, it would stretch to some uncharted place in the firmament. I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom.”
Glove, in a statement, said “My heart is broken. Working with Dick Donner, Mel Gibson and the Lethal Weapon team was one of the proudest moments of my career. I will forever be grateful to him for that. Dick genuinely cared about me, my life and my family. We were friends and loved each other far beyond collaborating for the screen and the success that the Lethal Weapon franchise brought us. I will so greatly miss him.”
Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright has paid tribute to Donner and his body of work.
He tweeted: "Richard Donner's big heart & effervescent charm shone in his movies through the remarkable performances of his cast, which is no mean feat. You remember all the characters in Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies & more, because Donner knew how to capture that magic onscreen.
"One Donner film I saw young & return to often is The Omen. Because it's oft imitated, it doesn't get the credit for being a perfectly paced & performed horror movie. I think of it as the first 80's movie in the 70's. David Warner's story in it is burned in my mind forever.
"I only met Richard once and he was funny, charming and so full of stories (and happy to indulge my geeky questions). I'm sad I'll never get to meet him again. RIP. (sic)"
Richard Donner's big heart & effervescent charm shone in his movies through the remarkable performances of his cast, which is no mean feat. You remember all the characters in Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies & more, because Donner knew how to capture that magic onscreen. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/7NDH9kKnQZ— edgarwright (@edgarwright) July 5, 2021
Clerks director Kevin Smith also praised Donner for his lasting impact on the movie industry.
He wrote: "Richard Donner made the devil a child in 'The Omen', invented the modern day comic book movie with 'Superman', and reinvented the buddy cop movie with 'Lethal Weapon'. I got to meet with him last year about a project. Guy was a natural born storyteller. Thanks for all the flicks, Dick!"
Richard Donner made the devil a child in The Omen, invented the modern day comic book movie with Superman, and reinvented the buddy cop movie with Lethal Weapon. I got to meet with him last year about a project. Guy was a natural born storyteller. Thanks for all the flicks, Dick! https://t.co/pjC9dbSkbt— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) July 5, 2021
Zack Snyder, who helmed Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, simply tweeted, "Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe."
Thank you, Richard Donner. You made me believe. pic.twitter.com/zmeONQpTUT— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) July 5, 2021
Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige also wrote a lengthy tribute to Donner.
“Richard Donner not only made me believe a man could fly, he made me believe that comic characters could be brought to life on the big screen with heart, humor, humanity and verisimilitude," Feige wrote. "Above all he taught me that it can and must be done with respect, caring, and kindness to everyone in front of and behind the camera. Dick and Lauren became mentors during my early career, and key supporters throughout the birth of the MCU. I owe my career to the way they took the time to nurture and teach a kid from New Jersey who didn’t know how to use a fax machine or make coffee very well. I always thought Dick was immortal. I still do. My thoughts are with Lauren and the entire family.”
— BANG SHOWBIZ
Photos: TPG News/Click Photos