Milos Forman, the Czech-born film director known for Oscar-winning classics One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus, has died at the age of 86, Czech news agency CTK has reported.
Forman’s wife Martina told CTK that he died yesterday (Friday 13) in the United States after a short illness. She said his departure was “calm, and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends”.
Forman had only made one American film when he was enlisted to direct the adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel Cuckoo’s Nest – the ironic 1971 comedy Taking Off.
Yet 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest proved a critical and commercial success, with Jack Nicholson as its star. It went on to become the first film since 1934’s It Happened One Night to scoop up the top five Oscar prizes, for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screeplay (adapted).
Then on Amadeus, his most financially successful film after Cuckoo’s Nest, Forman returned to Czechoslovakia in 1983 and brought two relatively little-known theatre actors to play Mozart (Thomas Hulce) and his bitter rival Antonino Salieri (F Murray Abraham), together for an adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play.
Forman took his second Best Director Oscar for the film, which also won awards for Best Picture, Actor (Abraham) and Screenplay – eight awards in total.
His other English-language films included 1996‘s The People vs Larry Flynt, which earned him his third Best Director nomination, and 1999’s Man on the Moon.
Film critics, actors and fans were quick to pay tribute to Forman following the news of his death.
Critic Guy Lodge wrote: “Farewell to Miloš Forman, who never made the same film twice, and never made one without interest. Now’s a good time to seek out the wonderful TAKING OFF if you’ve never seen it.”
English director, screenwriter and producer Edgar Wright said: “Very sad to hear that the great director Miloš Forman has passed away. He had a tremendous filmography that documented the rebel heart and human spirit. I have seen ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ enough times to be able to silently mouth along with the movie. RIP.”
Forman was jury president at the Cannes Film Festival in 1985 and the Venice Film Festival in 2000.
He was married twice in Czechoslovakia, first to actress Jana Brejchova (his lead actress in 1965’s Loves of a Blonde) and then to Vera Kresadlova, the mother of his twin sons Peter and Matej.
In 1998 he had another set of twins, Andrew and James, by his third wife, Martina Zborilova.
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