Curtis Hanson, the acclaimed director of L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys, was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed. The director was 71.
TMZ first reported the news, suggesting that Hanson had suffered a heart attack. The LAPD spokesperson could not confirm that report, but suggested instead that Hanson died from “natural causes.”
Hanson began his career by co-writing The Dunwich Horror in 1970, and eventually went on to direct and write his first film, Sweet Kill, in 1973. The director became commercially successful following 1992’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, a psychological thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay.
The director followed that film up with The River Wild and then with L.A. Confidential, for which Hanson received widespread acclaim and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Hanson was also nominated for Best Director and the film was nominated for Best Picture. Hanson followed Confidential up with the equally beloved Wonder Boys, a quieter, smaller comedy that is still raved about today.
Hanson followed up Wonder Boys with 8 Mile and In Her Shoes. 8 Mile star and rapper Eminem told Billboard, “Curtis Hanson believed in me and our crazy idea to make a rap battle movie set in Detroit. He basically made me into an actor for 8 Mile. I’m lucky I got to know him.”
Hanson’s last film was 2011’s Chasing Mavericks, which he was forced to leave near the end of production because of health problems. Hanson cited Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray as major influences on his work as a filmmaker.
Hanson was born in Reno, Nev. and grew up in Los Angeles. He dropped out of high school to work as a photographer, and eventually became one of the most ubiquitous Hollywood directors of his era. He was reportedly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the last few years of his life.
Curtis Hanson’s films were nothing if not versatile, and his career speaks for itself. Hanson is survived by his son, born in 2004 with producer Rebecca Yeldham.