The movie industry lost one of its most legendary directors today as Richard Donner passed away at the age of 91. With a career spanning six decades, Donner was the man behind countless iconic films across all kinds of genres, from horror classic The Omen to beloved family flick The Goonies to the original Superman: The Movie. His biggest impact on the action genre, meanwhile, has to be the Lethal Weapon franchise, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
Following the news of his passing, Gibson shared a statement with Deadline in which the star reflects on his creative partnership and friendship with his “mentor” Donner, who he praises for having “talent”, “greatness” and “humility”. Here’s what he had to say:
“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. 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.”
Gibson and Donner’s partnership extends beyond the Lethal Weapon world, with the pair also teaming up for two less well-remembered outings – 1994’s western comedy Maverick and 1997’s political thriller Conspiracy Theory. However, it’s the Lethal Weapon series that will remain their most celebrated collaborations. Donner helmed all four films, which released in 1987, 1989, 1992 and 1998, respectively.
Since then, the franchise has expanded onto TV, with Fox’s Lethal Weapon series – starring Damon Wayans Jr. – that ran for three seasons from 2016-19. A fifth film has been in the works for the longest time, too, and just last year it was announced that the movie – going by the title Lethal Finale – was finally in active development with Gibson and Glover set to return alongside Donner. It remains to be seen whether the two leading men will wish to go ahead with a reunion flick without their long-term friend and director behind the camera.
It’s not just Gibson who’s paying tribute to Richard Donner – the internet is currently full of fans and colleagues alike remembering the much-loved filmmaker, who is survived by his wife, X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner. A cause of death has yet to be given.