Ivan Reitman death: Kumail Nanjiani and Paul Feig lead tributes to Ghostbusters director

Tributes to filmmaker Ivan Reitman have poured in after his death at the age of 75.

The Hollywood veteran, who will be remembered for his work in classic comedies like National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) and Ghostbusters (1984), died peacefully in his sleep, his family told Associated Press.

Reitman was residing in Montecito, California when he died.

A joint statement from his three children Jason, Catherine, and Caroline, read: “Our family is grieving the unexpected loss of a husband, father, and grandfather who taught us to always seek the magic in life.

“We take comfort that his work as a filmmaker brought laughter and happiness to countless others around the world. While we mourn privately, we hope those who knew him through his films will remember him always.”

Actors Kumail Nanjiani, W Earl Brown, Guy Branum, and 2016 Ghostbusters director Paul Feig led tributes to Reitman on Twitter, honouring the director’s screen legacy.

Nanjiani remembered Reitman as “a legend” and celebrated his body of work, writing: “The number of great movies he made is absurd. RIP.”

Brown, who was cast in Reitman’s 2014 film Draft Day, recounted his experience working with the director on Twitter. He wrote that he was “ecstatic” about his role in Draft Day because “Animal House made me want to be in movies.”

He continued: “My first day on set was not an easy one. Ivan rode me pretty hard. I was so disappointed in my initial experience. When I returned to Cleveland a few weeks later, the thrill was gone. I was expecting more of the same, but when I walked on set I heard ‘EARL’ – Ivan put his arm around me – ‘it’s so good to have you back.’ I was taken aback by his response, then I realised he had seen the dailies by then and he now trusted me. The remainder of my time was wonderful – what you dream working with a hero of yours would be like.”

Notable comedy filmmaker Ivan Reitman died peacefully in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, his family said on Monday (14 February) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Notable comedy filmmaker Ivan Reitman died peacefully in his sleep at his Los Angeles home, his family said on Monday (14 February) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Feig said Reitman’s death was an “absolute shock” in a tweet that read: “I had the honour of working so closely with Ivan and it was always such a learning experience. He directed some of my favourite comedies of all time. All of us in comedy owe him so very much.”

Sony Pictures chief executive and chairman Tim Rothman said: “Tonight, the lady with the torch weeps, as do all of us at Columbia, and film lovers around the world. Ivan Reitman was an inseparable part of this studio's legacy, but more than that he was a friend. A great talent and an even finer man; he will be dearly missed.”

Branum, who appeared in Reitman’s 2011 rom-com No Strings Attached alongside Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, remembered the director as “impossibly kind” and “astoundingly funny”.

Harold and Kumar director Jon Hurwitz hailed Reitman’s body of work as a “legacy of classics”.

Comedian Mark Ellis, former NBA star Rex Chapman, Neil Young’s wife and actor Darryl Hannah, and journalist Steven Weintraub were also among those who honoured Reitman in the wake of his passing.

Reitman was born in 1946, in Komarmo, Czechoslovakia, where his father owned the country’s biggest vinegar factory. When the communists began imprisoning capitalists after the war, the Reitmans decided to escape to Vienna when Ivan was only four.

Eventually, the family relocated to Canada where Ivan’s interest in the performing arts began to develop and flourish. He started a puppet theatre and began entertaining at summer camps, also playing coffee houses with a folk music group.

His other notable directorial works include Kindergarten Cop, Six Days, Seven Nights, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

Reitman also produced Beethoven and several of his son Jason’s films including Up in the Air, Young Adult and Ghostbusters: Afterlife which was released last year.

He is survived by his wife Genevive and three children.