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Sidney Lumet: Hollywood remembers the legendary filmmaker

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Sidney Lumet, the legendary filmmaker behind such classics as 1957’s 12 Angry Men and 1973’s Serpico, passed away Saturday at the age of 86. Now, following his sad passing, friends and co-workers of Lumet’s are paying tribute to the Oscar-nominated director. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Woody Allen, fellow New York filmmaker: “He was definitely the quintessential NY film maker, although ironically his finest film, The Hill, was shot elsewhere. I’m constantly amazed how many films of his prodigious output were wonderful and how many actors and actresses did their best work under his direction. PS. Knowing Sidney, he will have  more energy dead than most live people.”

Quincy Jones, who composed for four of Lumet’s films, including 1963’s The Pawnbroker: “Sidney gave me my start in film composing in 1963 with The Pawnbroker and I was privileged to work with him on four additional films including The Wiz.  Sidney was a visionary filmmaker whose movies made an indelible mark on our popular culture with their stirring commentary on our society. Future generations of filmmakers will look to Sidney’s work for guidance and inspiration, but there will never be another who comes close to him.”

Martin Scorsese, fellow New York filmmaker: “The death of Sidney Lumet really marks the end of an era. He started in theatre as an actor, worked his way through the golden age of live television, and by the time he made his debut in 1957 with Twelve Angry Men, he was already a seasoned veteran. He had a unique gift with actors, an unusually dynamic feeling for drama, and a powerful sense of place, of the world of the picture. I admire so many of his movies — his adaptations of Williams, Miller, Chekhov and O’Neill, his exquisite version of Murder on the Orient ExpressThe Verdict — but he was a New York filmmaker at heart, and our vision of this city has been enhanced and deepened by classics like Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and, above all, the remarkable Prince of the City. It’s hard to imagine that there won’t be any more new pictures by Sidney Lumet. All the more reason to take good care of the ones he left behind.”

Al Pacino, who starred in Lumet’s 1973 and 1975 films, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon: “Sidney Lumet will be remembered for his films. He leaves a great legacy, but more than that, to the people close to him, he will remain the most civilized of humans and the kindest man I have ever known. This is a great loss.”

Lena Olin, who starred in Lumet’s 1997 film, Night Falls on Manhattan: “Such sad news to hear, but boy was he inspiring, to work at such a level even in advanced years. What an incredibly rich and well-lived life.”

Taylor Hackford, Directors’ Guild of America President: “From his first feature in 1957, Twelve Angry Men, to his last feature fifty years later, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Sidney Lumet experienced filmmaking with a never-wavering enthusiasm for the form, the technology and perhaps most of all, a true respect for the actor. Even in his eighties, Lumet had delved into high def digital filmmaking, recognizing the possibilities the new technology offered before many of his younger counterparts.  Known for making adult dramas that quickly became modern classics, Sidney forged a special rapport with his actors which came through to the audience in the honesty of the performances.  His films often depicted the grittier side of New York, the city he loved, but he is perhaps best known for his prophetic satire, Network, which foretold the future of the television business and created one of the most memorable lines in film history. Starting with his very first film, Sidney garnered multiple DGA Award nominations over the course of his career.  For his talent with actors and skill in telling a story, for his dedication to the art of filmmaking, Sidney was presented with the DGA’s Honorary Life Member Award in 1989 and the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.”

Don Johnson, who starred in Lumet’s 1993 film, Guilty As Sin: “I’m saddened to learn of the great Sidney Lumet’s passing.  I believe Sidney’s abundant energy and creative consciousness lives on. Of course through his vast contribution to our art during his life, but also beyond, into whatever form his consciousness becomes. And through the millions of lives he touched with his passion, love and kindness. So long Sidney. With love and gratitude,  DJ.”

Ethan Hawke, who starred in Lumet’s 2007 film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: “Sidney Lumet was honest, fierce, and kind.  A craftsman who believed in hard work, discipline, and preparation; he represented the best of our profession. His body of work is simply staggering.”

Beau Bridges, who starred in Sidney Lumet’s 1974 and 1972 films, Lovin’ Molly and Child’s Play: “As a director, he was probably more prepared for the shoot than anyone I had ever worked for. He drew the locations out on a rehearsal floor with tape and knew where everyone moved before we actually started  shooting. He loved the process of film-making and his joyful soul  permeated his cast and crew. As a man he was gentle and kind. He was very wise and mentored many young people as they set out on their journey… including me.  I will miss him very much.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, who starred in Lumet’s 2007 film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: “I often thought to myself how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to work with Sidney. He was a true master who loved directing and working with actors like no other. He was and is invaluable on so many levels the thought itself overwhelms. I adored him. God, we’re going to miss him.”

Francis Ford Coppola, fellow director: “Sidney Lumet was one of a handful of serious American filmmakers who was an inspiration for the generation that followed. His confident work with actors, seriousness of theme and dynamic work stood out, as was his kindness and encouragement given to fledgling directors aspiring to follow in his path. His words of encouragement meant so much to me. And beyond his acclaimed films, others less praised have astonishing moments, such as the amazing opening of The Fugitive Kind. Only a few months ago I had the privilege of spending an entire day with him, and asked him questions about the golden age of (live) television, of which he was a pioneer along with John Frankenheirmer, Arthur Penn, and Delbert Mann. Now with his passing, the end of one of America’s greatest artistic eras is over.”

(Additional reporting by Missy Schwartz and Jennifer Armstrong)

Read more:

Sidney Lumet, director of film classics, dies at 86

Sidney Lumet: How He Saw His Oscar-Nominated Films