'Snakes on a Plane' Director Passes Away at 60

By ROBERT PACE

January 07, 2013

David R. Ellis, former Hollywood stuntman and film director, passed away today at the age of 60 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was preparing to direct the upcoming film Kite.

Born in Hollywood, Ellis began working in the film industry as a stuntman in his late teens. He was promoted as stunt coordinator in the 1981 and worked on over 70 films in a 20-year span, including Scarface, Lethal Weapon, and Fatal Attraction.

After working his way up to becoming an assistant director, Ellis then directed his first film in 1996 with Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco.

Following his directorial debut, Ellis segued into the thriller genre, churning out two Final Destination sequels and most notably, the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Growing up in the water as a junior pro surfer, his most recent project was the underwater horror film Shark Night. Amongst a slew of his upcoming unreleased thriller films, Ellis directed the sports drama The Hail Mary, which is based on a true story of an NFL quarterback.

Jackson, who was working with Ellis again on Kite after their Snakes on a Plane collaboration, expressed his condolences via Twitter, writing, "So sad to hear of David R Ellis passing! So talented, so kind, such a Good Friend. He'll be missed. Gone too soon!"

The cause of Ellis' death has yet to be determined.

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