Born in 1945 in Reno, Nevada, Hanson began his career writing and editing film magazine Cinema and went on to direct projects as diverse as cult thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (1992) and Eminem’s quasi-biopic 8 Mile (2002).
He will be best remembered for L.A. Confidential (1997), the gritty neo-noir that looked at the crime-filled world of 1950s Hollywood for which he won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Hanson wrote the film with screenwriter Brian Helgeland, and also saw Kim Basinger win an Academy Award for her portrayal of a flawed femme fatale in the movie.
Russell Crowe, who made his Hollywood breakthrough in the film as uncompromisingly violent cop Wendell White, tweeted earlier:
RIP Curtis Hansen . Thank you for believing in me & standing your ground. In reality you made my job a career. Love & respect my friend.
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) September 21, 2016
Following his adaptation of the James Ellroy novel, Hanson went on to direct Wonder Boys (2000) with Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire. The film was a critical and commercial hit, and it came as something of a surprise when it was announced that the director’s next film would be a hip-hop biopic starring rapper Eminem.
8 Mile also starred Kim Basinger and despite early misgivings prior to release from critics, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The track Lose Yourself from the soundtrack went on to win an Oscar.
Hanson’s last film was surf drama Chasing Mavericks (2012) with Gerard Butler and Elizabeth Shue.
Kevin Bacon, who starred in white-water rafting action movie The River Wild (1994) opposite Meryl Streep, said of the film’s director:
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
— Kevin Bacon (@kevinbacon) September 21, 2016