Robert Jonathan Demme was an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about him!
1.His middle name was Jonathan..
2.He was born on February 22, 1944.
3. Jonathan Demme broke into feature film working for exploitation film producer Roger Corman from 1971 to 1976, co-writing and producing Angels Hard as They Come and The Hot Box.
4. He then moved on to directing, with three films (Caged Heat, Crazy Mama, Fighting Mad) for Corman’s studio New World Pictures. After Fighting Mad, Demme directed the comedy film Citizens Band (later retitled Handle with Care) for Paramount Pictures in 1977.
5. The film was well received by critics but received little promotion, and performed poorly at the box office.
6. Jonathan Demme’s next film, 1980’s Melvin and Howard, did not get a wide release, but received a groundswell of critical acclaim, and led to the signing of Demme to direct the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell star vehicle Swing Shift.
7. Intended as a prestige picture for Warner Bros as well as a major commercial vehicle for Demme, it instead became a troubled production due to the conflicting visions of Demme and star Hawn.
8. Demme ended up renouncing the finished product, and when the film was released in May 1984, it was generally panned by critics and neglected by moviegoers.
9. After Swing Shift, Demme stepped back from Hollywood to make the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense; the eclectic screwball action-romantic comedy Something Wild; a film-version of the stage production Swimming to Cambodia, by monologist Spalding Gray; and the New York Mafia-by-way-of Downtown comedy Married to the Mob.
10. In 1991, Demme won the Academy Award for The Silence of the Lambs—one of only three films to win all the major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress). Demme followed that up with Philadelphia, which garnered star Tom Hanks a Best Actor Oscar.
11. Since then, Demme’s films have included an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and remakes of two popular films: The Truth About Charlie, based on Charade that starred Mark Wahlberg in the Cary Grant role; and The Manchurian Candidate, with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep.
12. In 2007, Demme’s film Man from Plains, a documentary about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s book tour in promotion of his book [Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid]], premiered at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals.
13. In 2008, the art-house hit Rachel Getting Married was released, which many critics compared to Demme’s films of the late 1970s and 1980s.
14. It was included in many 2008 “best of” lists, and received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress by lead Anne Hathaway.
15. In 2010, Demme made his first foray into theater, directing Family Week, a play by Beth Henley.
16. The play was produced by MCC Theater and co-starred Rosemarie DeWitt and Sarah Jones.
17. At one time, Demme was signed on to direct, produce, and write an adaptation of Stephen King’s sci-fi novel 11/22/63, but later left due to disagreements with King on what should be included in the script.
18. Jonathan Demme has directed music videos for artists such as Suburban Lawns, New Order, KRS-One’s H.E.A.L. project and Bruce Springsteen.
19. He also produced a compilation of Haitian music called Konbit: Burning Rhythms of Haiti that was released in 1989. (Lou Reed selected Konbit… as one of his ‘picks of 1989′.
20. Jonathan Demme was on the board of directors at Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. In addition to his role on the board, he curated and hosted a monthly series called “Rarely Seen Cinema”.
21. Throughout 1986-2004, Demme was known for his dramatic close-ups in films.
22. These style of close-ups involve the character looking directly into the camera during crucial moments (particularly in Silence of the Lambs’ “Quid pro quo” scene).
23. According to Demme, this was done to put the viewer into the character’s shoes. Beginning with Rachel Getting Married, Demme adopted a documentary style of filmmaking.
24. Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson has paid homage to Demme in his films and has cited him as a major influence in his work.
25. Other directors such as Alexander Payne and Wes Anderson have been known to copy his close-ups in their own work
26. Jonathan Demme was involved in various political projects.
27. In 1981, he directed a series of commercials for the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way.
28. The spots, titled “Eggs”,”Music”, and “Sports”,were produced by Norman Lear and featured Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, and Goldie Hawn celebrating Freedom of Expression.
29. In 1985, he directed a video for Artists United Against Apartheid.
30. The short, featured various international musicians including Afrika Bambaataa, Rubén Blades, Jimmy Cliff, Herbie Hancock, Little Steven, Run-D.M.C., and Bruce Springsteen, calling for a boycott of the South African luxury resort Sun City during Apartheid.
31. His 1988 documentary Haiti Dreams of Democracy captured Haiti’s era of democratic rebuilding after dictatorship, while his 2008 documentary The Agronomist profiled Haitian journalist and human rights activist Jean Dominique. Demme spent six years on the documentary I’m Carolyn Parker, which highlighted rebuilding efforts in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina
32. Demme was born in 1944 in Baldwin, Nassau County, New York, the son of Dorothy Louise (Rogers) and Robert Eugene Demme, a public relations executive.
33. He graduated from Southwest Miami High School and the University of Florida.
34. He was a member of the steering committee of the Friends of the Apollo Theater in Oberlin, Ohio, along with Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.
35. In 2013, he returned to Oberlin, as part of an alumni reunion during the class of 2013 graduation ceremony, and received the award for Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
36. Jonathan Demme has three children by two marriages: Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos.
37. He also was the uncle of film director Ted Demme, who died in 2002.
38. During the 1980s, Demme had a brief romantic relationship with rock singer Belinda Carlisle, who appeared in his movie Swing Shift
39. On April 26, 2017, Demme died at the age of 73 in Manhattan due to complications from esophageal cancer and heart disease