One of Hollywood’s most revered and respected directors, Milos Forman has passed away at age 86.
Born in what is now the Czech Republic in 1932, Forman received five Academy Award nominations and is the winner of two Best Director Oscars, for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus”, in addition to the numerous Oscars his films have won over the course of a career spanning six decades.
Orphaned at nine when his parents died in a Nazi concentration camp, Forman launched his directing career in his native land, then known as Czechoslovakia, earning two Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film before moving to the U.S. following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Poland in 1968.
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It didn’t take long for Forman’s talent to be recognized in Hollywood, which led him to be hired by producer Michael Douglas to direct the 1975 classic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, which went on to receive nine Oscar nominations and win five Academy Awards.
Other films included his 1979 adaptation of hippie musical “Hair”, followed by “Ragtime”, “Amadeus”, “Valmont”, “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Man on the Moon”, in which he directed a deeply in-character Jim Carrey, whose full immersion as comedian Andy Kaufman was chronicled in the recent Netflix documentary “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”.
In a 2008 interview with the Directors Guild of America, Forman recalls how he, as a newly arrived foreigner, was warned against taking on “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, as the Ken Kesey novel it was adapted from was deemed to be quintessentially American.
“When I was making ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’, friends came to me before I started and said, ‘Don’t touch it, you’ll kill your career because it’s such an American subject, you can’t do it well. You’ll hurt yourself.’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about? It’s a Czech movie. For you it’s a piece of American literature; for me it’s real life. I lived it. The Communist Party was my Big Nurse. I know exactly what this is about.”
Following news of Forman’s passing, numerous Hollywood luminaries took to Twitter to share their condolences.