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Tim McGovern, Visual Effects Veteran and Oscar Winner for ‘Total Recall,’ Dies at 68

Tim McGovern, a visual effects veteran who earned an Oscar for his work on 1990’s Total Recall, died Saturday. He was 68.

His wife, Reena NeGandhi, posted the news on Facebook.

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“Today is the saddest day of my life,” she wrote. “My Husband Tim McGovern, an Oscar winner for the VFX in 1990’s for Total Recall and several more awards from the VES has died today. He passed away in his sleep.”

A digital effects pioneer, McGovern was a Visual Effects Society board member for nearly two decades. He served as vice chair as well as founding co-chair of the VES Awards committee. In October, McGovern received the VES Founders Award and was bestowed lifetime VES membership.

“We were saddened and shocked by the sudden news of Tim’s untimely passing,” said Kim Davidson, VES chair. “Tim and I have been VES members and colleagues for many years, and his passion and loyalty to the Society were exemplary. Tim’s insights, expertise and volunteer leadership have been key to our global expansion, and he will be terribly missed by us all.”

Added Bob Coleman, his former agent and friend: “This is such a shock. Tim McGovern was deeply loved by all who knew him. One of his great legacies and contributions to our industry will be his tireless work of inclusion of VFX workers around the globe into the Visual Effects Society.”

McGovern has numerous film credits on his résumé, starting with 1982’s Tron, which he worked on while employed with the former Robert Abel and Associates.

He went on to become a founding member of Sony Pictures ImageWorks, where he worked on such movies as 2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, 2017’s Dunkirk, 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, 2019’s Men in Black: International and 2021’s Jungle Cruise.

Other credits include 1993’s Last Action Hero, So I Married an Axe Murderer and Look Who’s Talking Now; 1997’s As Good as It Gets; and 2023’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

More recently, he worked at DNEG Mumbai and served as chief creative officer at Whisper Pictures, a company that develops and produces animated family films.

In 1991, McGovern was bestowed with a special achievement Oscar for his work on Total Recall. He also won multiple CLIO Awards throughout his career and was a member of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee.

According to his bio on IMDBpro, McGovern was born on June 24, 1955, in Chicago. He attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, double majoring in photography and graphic design, in the late ’70s. He earned a doctorate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2001.

In her post, NeGandhi said that McGovern had written a film and novel that she plans to “take over to get it made for him.”

“He had so many life dreams for his film and now he’s gone,” she wrote. “He’s left it in my hands to make it happen now. I have no idea how I will live without him. He took such good care of me and he was my world. May his soul rest in peace.”

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