Richard Donner‘s big heart — and bigger voice — commanded attention at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ tribute to the director-producer on Wednesday night in Beverly Hills.
“He has a voice that gets the attention of people getting on the bus two blocks away,” said John Savage, who appeared in Donner’s “Inside Moves.”
“You have brought us such joy and we love you for it,” said AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the opening of the tribute.
The two-hour program at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater mixed anecdotes with heartfelt tributes and clips from 1978’s “Superman: The Movie,” along with “The Omen,” the “Lethal Weapon” films, ” “Radio Flyer,” “The Goonies,” “Scrooged,” “Ladyhawke,” “Inside Moves,” and “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.”
DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige — who both once interned for Donner — followed Boone Isaacs to the stage. The rivals expressed particular admiration for “Superman: The Movie” as setting the standard for superhero films, with Feige saying it’s still required viewing for him when he’s making greenlight decisions.
Johns also recounted having to explain to Donner that a car carrier had destroyed the producer’s vehicle on the Warner Bros. lot while Johns was at the wheel. He started by saying, “I think you’re going to fire me.”
He recalled that Donner blew it off since the vehicle had been a gift.
A trio of “Goonies” stars — Jeff Cohen, Ke Huy-Quan, and Corey Feldman — also offered tributes, with Cohen noting that he had asked Donner to write him a letter of recommendation for college. Donner agreed to that and even paid all his tuition fees.
“I’m grateful that I got to work on ‘The Goonies,’ but more grateful for his friendship,” said Cohen, who played Chunk in the movie.
Feldman choked up as he thanked Donner for picking up the cost of his drug rehab, adding, “I didn’t really have a father and Richard filled that spot.”
Gibson said of Donner, “There’s true humility about the man; he refers to himself as a traffic cop, but he’s a f—ing genius.”
Donner joined the trio on stage after footage of a bathroom explosion in “Lethal Weapon 2” and a make-out scene between Gibson and Russo in “Lethal Weapon 3.” Donner said he had prepared a speech, but found it inadequate in the face of all the tributes.
“I assume if I’m not around, it’s a totally different conversation,” he added. “From the heart, I love everyone who was up here. This industry is my friend. I love it. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to thank the Academy.”