Director Richard Glatzer Dies at 63

Richard Glatzer

Richard Glatzer, photographed in 2008.

Director Richard Glatzer, who has been battling ALS, died Tuesday, March 10, according to Ekta Farrar of the publicity firm of Block Korenbrot. He had been taken by ambulance to a hospital two days before the Academy Awards ceremony, where Julianne Moore would eventually win a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Still Alice, the film he wrote and directed with his husband, Wash Westmoreland.

Months before Glatzer and Westmoreland signed on to adapt the novel Still Alice into a film, Glatzer received a preliminary diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

By the time of production, Glatzer’s verbal and motor skills had declined to the point where he could direct only by typing with one finger on an iPad. Westmoreland says these circumstances infused the project with a deeper sense of purpose. 

The film shows Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart deliver nuanced performances as Alice’s husband and daughter, and Alice’s travails are depicted with a balance of rawness and restraint uncommon in dramas tackling illness. “If you’re struggling with a disease like this, it’s important to feel you still matter,” Glatzer told Out earlier this year, who was communicating by using his toe and a text-to-speech app. “And it’s ironic that in my deteriorated state I was able to make a film that, creatively, is everything I’d ever wished for.” 

Richard Glatzer Wash Westmoreland

Photo: Getty

Glatzer and Westmoreland met in 1995 and married in 2013. They made the movie The Fluffer together in 2001 and also made a splash when they wrote and directed the indie film Quinceañera together, about their Los Angeles neighborhood Echo Park, in 2006. Glatzer was also one of the original shapers and producers the Tyra Banks reality show American's Next Top Model.

Westmoreland told The Advocate in 2006 that he and Glatzer “put the
‘co’ in codirecting,” and the duo claimed they got along well during the shoot for Quinceañera, and allowed their home to double for the gay couple’s in the movie.

“Our house looks like some frumpy professor lives there, but it got dressed up for the movie," Glatzer said.

Moore talked about the Still Alice filmmakers in her Oscar acceptance speech:

“… And finally, to our filmmakers, Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, who had hoped to be here tonight but they can’t because of Richard’s health. When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies, and that’s what he did.”

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