Acclaimed Hollywood director and producer Richard Donner, the prolific filmmaker best known for Superman, Lethal Weapon, and The Goonies, died on Monday. Donner’s wife, film producer Lauren Shuler Donner confirmed the director’s death to Deadline, but did not reveal a cause of death. He was 91.
The director’s debut feature was 1961’s X-15, starring Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore, which he followed with several films, including The Omen in 1976. That film, which starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, was considered the filmmaker’s breakthrough feature, leading to his helming of Superman in 1978. He subsequently directed Lethal Weapon, the Goonies, and Ladyhawke.
Donner has produced numerous films, along with Shuler Donner, including 2000’s X-Men and prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He also produced Free Willy and Any Given Sunday, among others.
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins often described Donner as a big inspiration on her as she stepped up to helm the D.C. superhero films. “I had been profoundly touched by Superman when I was a kid; it had this special place in my heart,” Jenkins told Rolling Stone in 2017.
She added of the film, “I was fascinated by how… it was really an adult film with actors taking it seriously and also having a good time. It hit these pockets so perfectly of comedy, action, romance. That balance was an inspiration to me. I wanted to do something that felt as good to go and see and have that adult stuff going on simultaneously.”
Last year, Donner signed on to direct the long-anticipated Lethal Weapon 5, reuniting with stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. “This is the final one,” Donner told The Telegraph. “It’s both my privilege and duty to put it to bed.”
Several filmmakers have memorialized Donner on Twitter, including Edgar Wright, who wrote that the director’s “big heart & effervescent charm shone in his movies through the remarkable performances of his cast, which is no mean feat.”
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
The Goonies star Sean Astin added, “Richard Donner had the biggest, boomiest voice you could imagine. He commanded attention and he laughed like no man has ever laughed before. Dick was so much fun. What I perceived in him, as a 12 year old kid, is that he cared. I love how much he cared.”
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