Film and theater icon Mike Nichols passed away on Wednesday night at age 83 and reactions are starting to come in from Hollywood. We’ll update this throughout the day:
Meryl Streep was working with Nichols on an adaptation of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play about Maria Callas, for HBO for premiere in early 2015. She sent the statement below to Deadline:
“An inspiration and joy to know, a director who cried when he laughed, a friend without whom, well, we can’t imagine our world, an indelible irreplaceable man.”
“Forward. We must always move forward. Otherwise what will become of us?” Said Mike Nichols, who changed the lives of those who knew him, who loved him, who will miss him so…”
“Mike was a friend, a muse, a mentor, one of America’s all time greatest film and stage directors, and one of the most generous people I have ever known. For me, The Graduate was life altering — both as an experience at the movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene. Mike had a brilliant cinematic eye and uncanny hearing for keeping scenes ironic and real. Actors never gave him less than their personal best — and then Mike would get from them even more. And in a room full of people, Mike was always the center of gravity. This is a seismic loss.”
ABC News president James Goldston‘s note to staff; Nichols’ wife Diane Sawyer was anchor of World News Tonight and longtime co-host of GMA:
I am writing with the very sad news that Diane’s husband, the incomparable Mike Nichols, passed away suddenly on Wednesday evening. He was 83.
In a triumphant career that spanned over six decades, Mike created some of the most iconic works of American film, television and theater—an astonishing canon ranging from The Graduate, Working Girl, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff to Closer, Charlie Wilson’s War, Annie, Spamalot, The Birdcage, and Angels in America. He was a true visionary, winning the highest honors in the arts for his work as a director, writer, producer and comic and was one of a tiny few to win the EGOT—an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.
No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike. He had recently been immersed in a new project for HBO to adapt “Master Class,” Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play about opera legend Maria Callas. The project reunited him with Meryl Streep, one of his most frequent collaborators. She once said of Mike, “no explanation of our world could be complete and no account or image of it so rich, if we didn’t have you,” in hailing him as one of the essential artists of our time.
One of the world’s greatest playwrights, Tom Stoppard, said, “He is a giver. He’s good at comfort and joy. He’s good at improving the shining hour and brightening the dark one, and, of course, he’s superlative fun…To me he is the best of America.”
Mike had a sparkling wit and a brilliant mind. Beloved by so many in film, television and Broadway, there was no greater joy in his life than his family, and of course our own Diane Sawyer. A true and beautiful love story, Mike and Diane were married for 26 years. He leaves behind three children—Daisy, Max and Jenny—and four wonderful grandchildren.
I know many of you will want to share your condolences with Diane. The family will hold a small, private service this week, and a memorial will be held at a later date. Until then, please join me in keeping Diane, Mike’s children, grandchildren and their families in your thoughts.
HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler
“Everyone overuses the word legend, particularly in our business. But Mike was in a class by himself. Brilliant, wise and a remarkable artist whose body of work for theater, film and television is simply unrivaled. But more importantly, he was also a kind and considerate gentleman. The combination of all that talent and menschiness won’t be found again anytime soon.”
John Goodman, whom Nichols directed in What Planet Are You From? and The Seagull off-Broadway.
“He made me feel as though I were a full partner or co-conspirator in finding clues to solve the puzzle; like a really slow Dr. Watson. It’s hard to imagine a world without him.”
Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay
“Mike Nichols was a cinematic legend and a one of a kind storyteller. He was funny and honest and a tremendous observer of human behavior, qualities that informed his working life as a director. Actors loved working with him; his loyal crew spent decades with him; and audiences thrilled at the prickle of recognition they felt when they watched his movies. There will never be another director quite like Mike Nichols – few have crossed the genres and styles from classic dramas like The Graduate, to broad comedies like The Birdcage, to the dark night of the soul that was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Mike believed that filmmaking is a collaborative art, and he worked long and hard to put together a team that shared his sensibilities, even candidly telling us in his DGA Quarterly cover interview in 2006 that his prime rule for casting and putting together a crew was, ‘No assholes. It’s an amazing thing what a difference it makes.’ We have lost a chameleon, an icon, and a hero to us. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and the many people who loved him.”
“Along with Elaine May, Mike Nichols changed the face of comedy. He was an irreplaceable and loving genius who also changed my life. My heartfelt condolences to Diane and his family.”