Director David R. Ellis, best known for his forays into the action and horror genres, has passed away unexpectedly while prepping his next film. He was 60 years old.
Ellis started out as a stuntman, performing those duties on dozens of films starting in the mid-1970s. He moved up to stunt coordinator on Phillip Kauffman’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and continued to alternate between stuntman and stunt coordinator on various film and television projects.
He got the directing bug early on and beginning in 1986, started working as a second unit director on various notable projects, including FATAL ATTRACTION, KUFFS, PATRIOT GAMES, SLIVER, WATERWORLD, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, MASTER AND COMMANDER and THE MATRIX RELOADED.
His first film as director was the Disney family adventure HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO. Although this film would have little in common with his later films. Ellis directed FINAL DESTINATION 2, which was notable for seriously upping the ante in gore and outrageousness over the original installment. He was successful enough in this that he was asked to come back and direct the fourth chapter in the series, titled simply THE FINAL DESTINATION.
Ellis was thrust into the national spotlight when he took over directing duties from Ronny Yu on SNAKES ON A PLANE, a small project that got bigger and bigger as internet hype increased. Prior to that, he helmed my personal favorite film of his – the fun thriller CELLULAR, starring Paul Walker, Kim Bassinger and Jason Statham. Last year, he directed the sharks-in-a-lake schlockfest SHARK NIGHT 3D.
Ellis was currently prepping production on KITE, the American film adaptation of a popular anime. The film was to star Ellis’ SNAKES ON A PLANE actor, Samuel L. Jackson. A horror film with Milla Jovovich, called BAD LUCK, was also in the works for the director.
No cause of death is currently known.