Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme dies aged 73

Connor Sephton, News Reporter

Film director Jonathan Demme has died aged 73, his publicist has confirmed.

He had been suffering from oesophageal cancer, and died surrounded by his wife and three children at his apartment in New York.

Demme was best known for directing The Silence Of The Lambs, the 1991 horror-thriller which starred Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling.

The movie was critically acclaimed and won five Oscars, including one for best director.

Demme went on to direct Philadelphia, a ground-breaking movie that won Tom Hanks his first Academy Award for portraying a lawyer fired by his firm for contracting HIV.

The director was widely respected in Hollywood, and had spent a considerable amount of time campaigning on behalf of refugees.

In 2013, the Americans For Immigrant Justice charity honoured him with a human rights award for his "tireless work over the decades on behalf of Haitian refugees and other vulnerable immigrants".

Fellow directors, actors and writers have paid tribute to Demme.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Jodie Foster said: "I am heartbroken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you'd have to design a hurricane to contain him.

"Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy; the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative."

And Tom Hanks told Entertainment Weekly: "Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living. He was the grandest of men."

On Twitter, Stephen King wrote: "Deeply sad to hear my friend, neighbour and colleague Jonathan Demme has passed on. He was one of the real good guys. I miss you, buddy."