'Silence of the Lambs' director Jonathan Demme dies aged 73

The Oscar-winner also directed the iconic Talking Heads concert film 'Stop Making Sense'

'Silence of the Lambs' director Jonathan Demme dies aged 73

Jonathan Demme. Picture by: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

American filmmaker Jonathan Demme, best known for his films The Silence of the Lambs and Stop Making Sense, has died aged 73.

The director died from cancer complications, Variety reports.

Demme was born in New York State in 1944, and kicked off his directing career in the 1970s with a number of exploitation films such as Caged Heat and Fighting Mad.

He began attracting critical attention with films such as the 1977 comedy Handle with Care (also known as Citizens Band) and 1980's Melvin and Howard (which saw Mary Steenburgen take home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress).

There were more award nominations and wins for the cast of Demme's 1988 mafia comedy Married to the Mob, but the director himself secured his Academy Award for the iconic 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs.

The second film based on Thomas Harris' books featuring cannibal Hannibal Lecter (with Anthony Hopkins taking over the role from Brian Cox), the film took home Oscars in all of the 'top five' categories, including Best Film and Best Director.

It remains one of the most popular and influential films of the 1990s thanks to its extraordinary mix of horror and thriller elements, as well as numerous iconic performances, scenes and lines.

Demme enjoyed another critical hit in 1993 with Philadelphia, although he did not enjoy the quite the same level success with the three features released between 1998 and 2004.

However, the director again attracted widespread acclaim in 2008 with Rachel Getting Married - a smaller scale family drama starring Anne Hathaway that was widely welcomed as a return to form for Demme.

Stop Making Sense

Although perhaps best known for his fiction film career - his most recent feature was 2015's Ricki and the Flash -  it would be remiss to neglect his work as a prolific documentarian, particularly noted for his work with several prominent musicians.

His 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense remains one of the most beloved of all music documentaries, and is still often shown in Irish cinemas in late-night slots.

The film itself is a lively, witty and expertly crafted work that perfectly captures the strange energy of a 1980s Talking Heads performance.

More than a dozen other documentary works followed, including three separate films featuring rock veteran Neil Young. He also directed 2016's Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids.

Filmmakers and other stars have been paying tribute to the director this afternoon following the announcement of his death: