Sydney Pollack (1934 – 2008)

Director, Producer, Actor. He did it all.


It’s with cheerless phizog and overcast disposition that I report the passing of filmmaker/actor Sydney Pollack.
Yep, 2008 has robbed us of another cinematic great.

As a filmmaker, Pollack was best known for his crafty work on such pics as “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” “The Electric Horseman,” “Absence of Malice,” “Out of Africa,” and “Tootsie” (there’s a great documentary on the newly-released “Tootsie : Special Edition” DVD that chronicles the friction that existed between Pollack and star Dustin Hoffman on set; well worth a look). Pollack’s films were always worth watching – even if some of them (“Sabrina”, “The Firm”, “Havana”) weren’t as solid as earlier efforts.

The Oscar-Winner was also a proficient producer, having steered such films as “Leatherheads”, “Michael Clayton”, “Cold Mountain”, “Sliding Doors” and “Presumed Innocent” to the sandy shores of cinemaville. At the time of his death, he’d just executive produced the telemovie “Recount” (which I believe he was also going to direct at one point) and agreed to produce “The Lives of Others” (with the late Anthony Minghella) and a film based on the comic “The Silver Linings Playbook”, both for the Weinstein Company.

But many probably know Pollack just as well for his on-screen performances. He sometimes pops up films he directs (like “Tootsie” and “The Interpreter”) but usually likes to wear one hat at a time, therefore only acting in films he doesn’t helm – like “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Michael Clayton”, “Changing Lanes”, “A Civil Action” and Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives”. His most recent performance was in the Patrick Dempsey/Michelle Monaghan rom-com “Maid of Honour”.

The 73-year-old had been battling Cancer for the past 9-months. He slipped away at his Pacific Palisades home.
George Clooney, Pollack’s co-star in “Michael Clayton”, said “Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act. He’ll be missed terribly”.

Sally Field, who starred in Pollack’s “Absence of Malice”, is just as upset. “Having the opportunity to know Sydney and work with him was a great gift in my life,” Field said in a statement. “He was a good friend and a phenomenal director and I will cherish every moment that I ever spent with him.”

Pollack was survived by his wife, Claire; two daughters, Rebecca and Rachel; his brother Bernie; and six grandchildren.

Rest in Peace, SP. And thanks for entertaining us all these years.