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Jodie Foster & John Singleton on Demme

April 26, 2017

 

26OSCAR25YRS2-master675 Filmmaker Jonathan Demme died at 73 today. While his diverse resumé ranged from freewheeling comedies like Something Wild and Married to the Mob to such earnest dramas as Philadelphia and Beloved, he’s most widely remembered for 1991’s serial chiller The Silence of the Lambs, which won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Actress (Jodie Foster) and Screenplay (Ted Tally). Only two other films, It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, have swept the top 5 Oscar categories. To mark the 25th anniversary of Silence‘s feat, I interviewed Foster as well as one of Demme’s Best Director competitors, John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), for a New York Times story. Here are their memories:

JODIE FOSTER

The Silence of the Lambs has stood the test of time. It has as much entertainment value as it does heart. It’s really intelligent. It’s classic. It doesn’t date. It feels timeless. It had a strong female character who was complicated. I felt like it was a really rich film, so I’m very proud. I feel like all of us did our best work in the movie.”

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JOHN SINGLETON

“I knew Jonathan Demme was going to win Best Director. He came really close to producing Boyz. He was the first professional director I knew who said, “You have something here with this screenplay.” He was going to get it made at Orion Pictures. He flew me to New York, he had read the script, he wanted to produce it. He took me to lunch and gave me some directing tips and took me to a screening room and he was just about to show Silence to the studio for the first time.”

“We were friends. When we were both nominated, we celebrated. I used his advice for my first film. He would tell me things about thematics and what’s going on behind a scene. This was just over lunch, and the things Demme told me have resonated with me to this day.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Demme.

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