Hollywood director David R. Ellis, best known for gory genre films “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died today (Jan. 7) at the age of 60 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The cause of death is unknown.
Ellis was prepping a reunion with “Snakes” leading man Samuel L. Jackson on the anime-adaptation “Kite.” He most recently completed second unit directing on the upcoming fantasy film “Winter’s Tale” starring Colin Farrell, “Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Matt Bomer.
Ellis’ career began in acting with roles in Disney’s “The Strongest Man in the World” and TV series including “The New Adventures of Wonder Woman” and “Flying High.” He then transitioned into stunts in the late ’70s and achieved great success throughout the ’80s and into the early ’90s. He served as stunt coordinator on projects ranging from hit films “Misery” and “The Addams Family” to TV’s “Baywatch” and “V.”
Ellis made his directorial debut with 1996’s family film “Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco.” But it was his second feature, 2003’s “Final Destination 2,” that established him as a go-to guy for horror and thriller films. He went on to direct “Cellular,” “Snakes on a Plane,” “Asylum,” “The Final Destination” and “Shark Night 3D,” while also maintaining an active career as second unit director on big budget projects like “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “The Matrix Reloaded” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”
In addition to “Winter’s Tale,” Ellis completed second unit work on two other films yet to be released: “47 Ronin” starring Keanu Reeves and “R.I.P.D.” starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds.
His daughter, Tawny Ellis, is also active in Hollywood as a stuntwoman and producer, frequently on her father’s projects.
Samuel L. Jackson responded to the news via Twitter:
So sad to hear of David R Ellis passing! So talented, so kind, such a Good Friend. He’ll be missed. Gone too soon!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) January 7, 2013