2ND UPDATE: I’m still trying to discover how George Hickenlooper passed away, but I’m told he had been in Colorado campaigning last night for his cousin, John, who is in the final stretch run of the Governor’s race in Colorado. John, the mayor of Denver, is the Democratic Party candidate. Hickenlooper went early to Denver to help his cousin, and had to be there later this week, when Casino Jack will be shown Thursday at the Starz Film Festival. I’m told that George didn’t wake up this morning, but I’m still not sure why.
UPDATE: George Hickenlooper’s Casino Jack star Kevin Spacey has sent me a statement on the shocking passing of his director. “It is with great sadness that I have to even think about writing about George in this way, when I was looking forward to seeing him next week in Los Angeles,” Spacey said. “We have been due to take our film on the road toward its release in December. I can’t believe he’s gone because George was so alive, bubbling with energy, drive, commitment, an open heart and a brilliant sense of humor. He was one of a kind.
“My experience working with him was nothing short of fantastic: from our prison visit with Jack Abramoff, to script meetings, pre-production discussions and finally our first day of shooting. From that day until our last event premiering Casino Jack in Toronto last month, he was a joy to be around. His sensibility and outlook served his everyday. All of us who knew him – who had the chance to collaborate with him – who saw the child in him that he never lost – always looking at life with wonder and curiosity – will miss him with enormous admiration and affection.
I’m shocked and can’t really get it around my head that I won’t be spending the next three months in his company. That Casino Jack turns out to be his last, the pride I feel in it, in his direction, his ideas and the final results . . . has soared. He deserves for audiences to see it and discover his work. And then go out and see what he did before, cause he will deservedly find a whole new audience. And nothing would make George happier than for people to see his work.
Tonight I raise a glass in his honor. Rest in peace, my friend.”
EARLIER: Director George Hickenlooper has passed away at age 47. Best known for directing the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse–on the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now–Hickenlooper was preparing for the release of Casino Jack. The Hickenlooper-directed drama stars Kevin Spacey as disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. George was so excited to see the picture finds its way to release through ATO Pictures, after showing it at numerous festivals this year, and he was particularly proud of the performance turned in by Spacey. The film will open December 17 in New York and Los Angeles. His other films included Factory Girl and The Man From Elysian Fields.
Hickenlooper leaves behind wife, Suzanne, and a son, Charles. In a statement, Suzanne Hickenlooper said: “George was a loving father and provider. He had a great creative talent, a generous spirit, and loved life and people more than anyone I know. Charles and I will miss him very much.”
Hickenlooper’s cousin, John, who is currently running for Governor of Colorado, said: “Shock and sadness do not begin to describe our emotions. We are devastated. George had immense creative talents and cinematic gifts, but he was so much more than that to us and all his family. His passion for life, zeal for people and unquenchable curiosity enriched everyone who had the fortune to know him. Our hearts go out to his wife Suzanne, and his son Charles.”
ATO’s Jonathan Dorfman and Temple Fennell said: “On behalf of ATO Pictures, we are devastated by the loss of our friend and colleague, George Hickenlooper. Those who knew George can attest to his amazing talent and commitment to excellence. No one held a bar higher or had a bigger heart. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
I will continue to furnish information but haven’t yet been told the cause of death. But here is the trailer for Casino Jack: