Dick Smith influenced many of Hollywood's biggest filmmakers, and in the wake of his death they're saying thank you.
Smith, an Oscar-winning and groundbreaking makeup artist who created unforgettable effects for films like The Exorcist, Scanners, Ghost Story and more, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Almost immediately after news of his death hit, film fans, critics and fellow makeup artists began paying tribute to the man on his work online. Smith was also honored by some of the biggest filmmakers in Hollywood, including one who worked with Smith on one of his most famous projects.
Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim writer/director Guillermo del Toro, who knew Smith for nearly 30 years, penned a personal remembrance for Vulture. Del Toro began the piece by declaring, "Without Dick Smith, I would not be making movies," and recalled how willing Smith was to help young filmmakers fighting to make films featuring their own creature creations.
"Dick came to be like part of my family. He was a guy that changed the way I see the art of making movies," Del Toro wrote. "He wanted to spread the gospel, the knowledge, amongst colleagues and amongst anyone who was interested in learning. Dick had a way of welcoming anyone new without prejudice or snobbery."
Star Trek and Star Wars: Episode VII writer/director J.J. Abrams also took the time to pay tribute to Smith by doing something he rarely does: posting a note to his Bad Robot production company's Twitter page.
Smith's death also brought a fond remembrance from his collaborator William Friedkin, the legendary director who worked with Smith to craft some of the most terrifying film sequences of all time in The Exorcist. Smith didn't work on any other film Friedkin's directed, but the work they did together on that iconic film is the stuff of legend, and Friedkin's respect for Smith was evident in the tweets he sent out following the makeup artist's death.
Dick Smith is an artist, a craftsman, a genius. His work will live forever, as will he, in the hearts Of all of us who knew him.— William Friedkin (@WilliamFriedkin) July 31, 2014
Without Dick Smith neither The Exorcist Nor modern makeup would be The same. http://t.co/liqUyFy26w— William Friedkin (@WilliamFriedkin) July 31, 2014
We already know Smith's a legend who deserves these honors, but seeing the likes of del Toro, Abrams, Friedkin and others speaking up to pay homage to their friend just crystallizes it. He's a guy whose name the average moviegoer probably never knew, but his legacy is being trumpeted by fellow icons right now.