Donner, who directed the original “Superman” film, the 1985 classic “The Goonies” and the “Lethal Weapon” series, died on Monday at the age of 91.
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Fellow director Spielberg, who wrote the story for “The Goonies,” remembered Donner in a statement to Variety.
“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,” Spielberg said. “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, who starred alongside Danny Glover in Donner’s “Lethal Weapon” movies as well as “Conspiracy Theory” with Julia Roberts, also shared a statement with Variety mourning the loss of Donner.
“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,” Gibson said. “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.”
Glover also chimed in, saying in a statement: “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,” Glover said. “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.”
Sylvester Stallone, who starred in Donner’s 1995 film “Assassins,” told Variety: “I enjoyed working with Dick Donner on ‘Assassins.’ He was a man’s man, extremely talented! Great sense of humor, his big laughter was like rolling thunder.”
PETA also issued a statement in tribute to Donner, praising his work producing “Free Willy” and animal advocacy efforts.
“PETA will remember Richard as a brilliant director and producer whose movies drew people to view animals as someone, not something,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote. “A pioneer long before Blackfish opened eyes and hearts, Richard revealed the anguish of captive orcas with Free Willy—and thanks to the impact of his film, Keiko the orca was rescued from a marine park prison and spent the rest of his life swimming free in Norway’s coastal waters. Richard holds a special place in our hearts for his activism and kindness, and we will miss him.”
There were also plenty of remembrances posted to social media, with “The Sparks Brothers” director Edgar Wright writing a lengthy thread on Donner’s impact.
“Richard Donner’s big heart & effervescent charm shone in his movies through the remarkable performances of his cast, which is no mean feat,” Wright said. “You remember all the characters in Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies & more, because Donner knew how to capture that magic onscreen.”
Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige penned a long appreciation for Donner’s impact on his career. “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. 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,” Feige wrote. “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.”
Actor and producer Ben Stiller said, “Richard Donner made big time movies. Movies that remain in our consciousness. That never has been and never is easy. Always admired his work.”
“The Goonies” actor Sean Astin wrote: “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. Goonies Never Say Die.”
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