J. Michael Riva, an Oscar-nominated production designer who recently worked on Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained, has died. He was 63.
Riva, whose recent film résumé also includes The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man and its sequel, suffered a stroke June 3 in New Orleans while preparing to head to the set of Django. Nearly a week later, the married father of four sons died surrounded by family.
Riva, who notably was the grandson of Marlene Deitrich, earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on 1985’s The Color Purple.
His other production design credits include the Lethal Weapon franchise, A Few Good Men, the Charlie’s Angels films, The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, Goonies, Dave, Ordinary People, Brubaker and the cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth DImension.
His TV credits included the film Tuesdays With Morrie and the the 74th Annual Academy Awards, for which he received an Emmy nomination. He later won an Emmy for designing the the 79th installment of the Oscar telecast.
Riva also was a writer, earning a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for his original screenplay, Lily in Winter, a 1994 made-for-TV movie produced by Showtime.
“Michael Riva was a great friend and a tremendous talent, able to tailor the look and mood of a story to the emotion in the script,” said Sony Entertainment President Amy Pascal. “We are stunned and saddened by his passing.”
Other industry heavweights echoed that sentiment.
“Michael Riva was a wonderful collaborator, brilliant designer, an emphatic perfectionist — but most of all he was a great friend,” remembered Marc Webb, director of The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a gift from the universe, and I will miss him like crazy.”
Said Django director Tarantino: “Michael became a dear friend on this picture, as well as a magnificent, talented colleague. Every member of our Django crew family is devastated by this tragic loss as we persevere on his wonderful sets.”
Harvey Weinstein, producer of the Leonardo DiCaprio–Jamie Foxx starrer, called Riva “an amazing talent and we were lucky to have him work on Django Unchained. His creativity enhanced every frame of the film. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”