Nicolas Roeg, the innovative director who scared the bejesus out of filmgoers in the 1973 horror film “Don’t Look Now” and helmed David Bowie’s awe-inspiring “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” died Friday at the age of 90 from natural causes.
Born in London, Roeg entered the film industry as a cameraman before moving to cinematography, where his artistic eye is prevalent in classic fare such as “Fahrenheit 451” and “Far From the Madding Crowd.” Pushing 40, he was tapped to direct his first movie, the 1970 crime thriller “Performance,” best known now for co-starring Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
But it was “Don’t Look Now” that made him one of the world’s most influential directors. The film, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as parents grieving the loss of their daughter in Venice, is a visually jarring ghost story that plays on the characters’ deepest fears and doubts.
Three years later, Roeg directed “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” a surreal fantasy that starred David Bowie as an extraterrestrial in desperate need of water for his drought-ridden planet.
“Just heard another great storyteller, the inimitable Nicolas Roeg left us today,” tweeted Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, director of “Moon” and “Source Code.” “What an incredible body of work he’s left us with!”
Roeg’s final big Hollywood film was the 1990 Roald Dahl adaptation “The Witches,” starring Anjelica Huston.