According to a sad announcement from his son, legendary director John G. Avildsen has died at the age of 81 from pancreatic cancer. Avildsen had a long and illustrious career, and was best known for Rocky and The Karate Kid.
On top of making a movie star out of Sylvester Stallone, Avildsen excelled at portraying the everyman. Rocky Balboa and Daniel LaRusso were both regular people who were trying to overcome their circumstances in order to make better lives for themselves, and they just so happened to achieve greatness through perfectly choreographed training montages and eventual victories. However, Avildsen managed to make them both deeply human and sympathetic, subverting many of the jock stereotypes attached to sports films.
According to an interview last year with The Baltimore Sun, Avildsen was hesitant to take on Rocky at first, citing his own disinterest in boxing.
“When this script came to me from an old friend … I said I had no interest in boxing, I think boxing’s sort of a dumb thing. He pleaded and pleaded, so I finally read the thing. And on the second or third page, he’s talking to his turtles, Cuff and Link. I was charmed by it, and I thought it was an excellent character study and a beautiful love story. And I said yes.”
Thankfully he did, and film fans were given a true classic. Avildsen is survived by his four children, Anthony, Jonathan, Ashley and Bridget, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.
(Via LA Times)