Miloš Forman, who rose to prominence as a key figure in the Czech New Wave before establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors, has died at 86. A two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Director, the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” helmer also won three Golden Globes, the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prize of the Jury (for “Taking Off”), the Golden Bear at Berlin (“The People vs. Larry Flynt”), a BAFTA award, and numerous other accolades.
He died last night in Warren, Connecticut following a short illness.
“Miloš was truly one of ours. A filmmaker, artist, and champion of artists’ rights,” Directors Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “His contribution to the craft of directing has been an undeniable source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. His directorial vision deftly brought together provocative subject matter, stellar performances and haunting images to tell the stories of the universal struggle for free expression and self-determination that informed so much of his work and his life.”
Born Jan Tomáš Forman on February 18, 1932 in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia, Forman began his career in his native country before moving to the United States following the Prague Spring in 1968. He became a naturalized American citizen nine years later. His two most acclaimed films from that early period, “Loves of a Blonde” (1965) and “The Firemen’s Ball” (1967), were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Forman made his English-language debut with 1971’s “Taking Off,” and from there directed such films as “Hair,” “Ragtime,” and “Man on the Moon.” His final work as director was 2006’s “Goya’s Ghosts.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of only three films to win what are considered the five most important Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay (adapted, in this case); the other two are “It Happened One Night” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Forman is survived by his wife, Martina Zborilova-Forman, and four children. Two of them, twin sons named Jim and Andy, are named after Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman; Forman directed Carrey in “Man on the Moon,” a biopic about Kaufman.
Update: Carrey has tweeted a tribute to Forman:
Another great one passes through the doorway. Milos Foreman. What a force. A lovely man. I’m glad we got to play together. It was a monumental experience. ;^) pic.twitter.com/wzgmOibDHs
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) April 14, 2018