Helmer David R. Ellis dies at 60

Directed 'Snakes on a Plane,' 'Final Destination 2'

David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60.

Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed.

Born in Los Angeles, Ellis started his Hollywood career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator on such hits as “Scarface,” “Lethal Weapon” and “Fatal Attraction.” He graduated to second unit director on films including “Waterworld,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “The Matrix Reloaded” before making his helming debut with “Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco.”

Ellis’ more recent directing credits include “Final Destination 2,” “Cellular,” “Snakes on a Plane” and “Shark Night 3D.” He had just finished directing second unit on Universal’s upcoming tentpoles “47 Ronin” and “R.I.P.D,” as well as Akiva Goldsman’s “Winter’s Tale.”

A live-action adaptation of the 1998 Japanese anime, “Kite” would’ve reteamed Ellis with his “Snakes on a Plane” star Samuel L. Jackson, who was not immediately available for comment.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

More Film

  • Les Arcs Film Festival

    Les Arcs European Film Festival's Industry Village Kicks Off with Strong Roster

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Box Office: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Rockets to $215 Million Opening Weekend

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Disney-Fox Deal Sets Up Scramble for

    Disney-Fox Deal Unleashes Flood of Free-Agent Executives, Talent

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    David R. Ellis, veteran stuntman and director of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Final Destination 2,” died Monday morning in Johannesburg, South Africa, while preparing to direct anime adaptation “Kite.” He was 60. Early indications are that Ellis died of a sudden heart attack, though the official cause of death has not been confirmed. Born […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content