Curtis Hanson, Oscar-winning filmmaker, dead at 71

Story highlights

  • Curtis Hanson won an Oscar for "L.A. Confidential"
  • He also directed "8 Mile" and "Too Big to Fail"

(CNN)Academy Award-winning filmmaker Curtis Hanson, perhaps best known for his acclaimed neo-noir drama "L.A. Confidential," has died. He was 71.

Hanson was found unresponsive in his home Tuesday, according to Officer Liliana Preciado, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. He died of natural causes, she said.
    Hanson won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay of 1997's "L.A. Confidential," which he also directed.
    He also directed "8 Mile," a drama about Detroit's underground rap scene starring Eminem; the nanny-from-hell thriller "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle"; "The River Wild," a wilderness thriller with Meryl Streep as a whitewater rafting guide; and "Wonder Boys," an adaptation of the Michael Chabon novel with Michael Douglas as a struggling writer.
    Curtis Hanson in 2007.
    But it was "L.A. Confidential" that really propelled him into Hollywood's elite. The film, which starred Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger, skillfully juggled corruption, intrigue and murder among cops and Hollywood figures in 1950s Los Angeles. It was nominated for nine Oscars, also winning best supporting actress for Basinger, and helped launch Crowe's career.
    "Thank you for believing in me & standing your ground," Crowe said on Twitter. "In reality you made my job a career."
    "Curtis Hanson believed in me and our crazy idea to make a rap battle movie set in Detroit. He basically made me into an actor for '8 Mile.' I'm lucky I got to know him," said Eminem in a statement to Billboard, a CNN content partner.
    "So sad to hear about Curtis Hanson. great director. great man. Riding that river with him was one of the greatest gigs of my life," tweeted Kevin Bacon, Streep's villainous co-star in "The River Wild."
    Hanson fell ill in 2011 while directing the surfing film "Chasing Mavericks," according to the LA Times.
    Hanson was born in Reno, Nevada on March 24, 1945. He got his start in Hollywood as a screenwriter, penning scripts for low-budget thrillers and horror movies.
    He spent time on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and served on the executive board for the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.
    One of his last films was 2011's "Too Big to Fail," a TV-movie adaptation of financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin's book on the 2008 financial meltdown.
    A tweet from the Academy on Wednesday read, "Thank you Curtis Hanson for all that you've given us. You'll be missed."