Oscar-winning Czech-born film director Milos Forman, celebrated for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus, has died aged 86, his agents told AFP on Saturday.
“I heard from [Forman’s wife] Martina Forman very early this morning letting me know Milos passed away at Danbury Hospital near his home in Warren, Connecticut,” his friend and agent Dennis Aspland said.
Czech news agency CTK quoted Martina Forman as saying her husband died suddenly on Friday after a short bout with illness.
“He passed away quietly, surrounded by his family and his closest people,” she said.
In an obituary on Twitter, Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas labeled the cigar-smoking director a “genius of cinematography.”
“Milos Forman has left us. Genius of cinematography and master in the portrayal of the human condition. RIP,” the Desperado star said.
Jim Carrey, who played comedian Andy Kaufman in Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999) – a film that inspired Forman to name his twins James and Andrew – hailed Forman as “a force” and a lovely man.
“I’m glad we got to play together. It was a monumental experience,” he tweeted.
Born in the town of Caslav east of Prague on February 18, 1932, Forman lost both parents in Nazi concentration camps.
In the 1960s, he joined the New Wave of filmmakers standing up to the government in what was then Czechoslovakia, making himself famous with Black Peter, Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen’s Ball.
Shortly before the 1968 Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia, which put an end to a liberal period known as the Prague Spring, Forman moved to the US via France.
His career overseas started with Taking Off in 1971, followed by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest four years later, which brought him his first best director Oscar.
A US citizen since 1977, the father-of-four returned to Prague in 1983 to film Amadeus, which earned him a second Oscar for best director and won eight out of 11 nominations.
“Milos Forman was… a master filmmaker – no one better at capturing small unrepeatable moments of human behavior,” tweeted Forman’s screenwriter Larry Karaszewski.
“We made two movies together and every day spent with him was a unique adventure,” said Karaszewski, who wrote the screenplays for Forman’s The People vs Larry Flynt (1996) and Man on the Moon together with Scott Alexander.