Curtis Hanson, a beloved director who made hit films such as 8 Mile and L.A. Confidential, passed away last night at the age of 71. While no cause of death has been confirmed, initial reports reveal the filmmaker was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home last night, from an apparent heart attack. However, an LAPD spokesperson would not confirm that information, stating he died of "natural causes."
Variety reports that paramedics responded to a call regarding an unconscious man at the director's Hollywood Hills home at 4:52 PM. The filmmaker was pronounced dead at the scene, although no further details were given. The filmmaker had been retired for the past few years, with his last film being the 2012 biopic Chasing Mavericks, and other reports claim he had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Curtis Hanson was born March 24, 1945 in Reno, Nevada and he was raised in Los Angles. Despite his father being a Los Angeles public school teacher, he dropped out of high school and started working as a freelance photographer and editor for Cinema Magazine. His first big break in the industry was co-writing the screenplay for The Dunwich Horror in 1970, which starred Sandra Dee and Dean Stockwell. He made his directorial debut in 1972 with Sweet Kill starring Tab Hunter and Angus Scrimm.
He went on to direct Losin' It starring Tom Cruise and Shelley Long in 1983, The Bedroom Window starring Steve Guttenberg and Elizabeth McGovern in 1987 and Bad Influence starring Rob Lowe and James Spader in 1990. His big break happened with the 1992 thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, starring Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay. He followed that up with The River Wild starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon in 1994, before the critical and commercial hit L.A. Confidential in 1997, which he won his first and only Academy Award, for co-writing the screenplay with Brian Helgeland.
Curtis Hanson followed up L.A. Confidential with Wonder Boys in 2000, starring Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire and 8 Mile, which was his biggest box office success, taking in $116.7 million domestically at the box office. His final films were In Her Shoes starring Cameron Diaz, Lucky You starring Eric Bana and Robert Duvall, and Chasing Mavericks, starring Gerard Butler, although he had to leave that film during production after complications arose following a recent heart surgery. The production was completed by Michael Apted. He also directed an episode of Greg the Bunny and the 2011 HBO TV movie Too Big to Fail. The filmmaker is survived by his son, born in 2004, which he had with his longtime partner, producer Rebecca Yeldham.