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Hollywood Remembers Robert Evans: ‘One of the Best Story Tellers This Business Ever Had’

Robert Evans
David Handschuh/AP/Shutterstock

Hollywood executives, actors and producers paid tribute to Robert Evans, the Paramount executive and producer of “Chinatown” and “Urban Cowboy,” who died on Saturday at 89.

Golden Globe winner and ex-wife Ali MacGraw, who married Evans 50 years ago last week, remembered her former partner fondly. “Our son Joshua and I will miss Bob tremendously and we are so very proud of his enormous contribution to the film industry,” the “Love Story” actor said. “He will be remembered as a giant.” MacGraw accompanied Evans at his 2002 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony.

Paramount, who recently renamed the executive screening room on their lot for Evans, released an official statement from their longtime producing partner: “Hollywood has lost one of its most influential and iconic figures in the inimitable Bob Evans. He was a valued and beloved partner to Paramount Pictures for over half a century, and his contributions to our organization and the entertainment industry are innumerable and far-reaching. As an actor, a producer and a leader, he has left an indelible mark on our studio and the world of film. His influence will be felt for generations to come. We extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones.”

Robert Towne, the Oscar-winning screenwriting who penned the script for “Chinatown,” said in a statement, “The thing that I remember very vividly, and I think it would make him happy. We were in his living room. He was on one sofa and I was on the other. We’d been on the stage working with Jerry Goldsmith and some of the musicians on Chinatown. We’d been at it all night long and by then it was around four in the morning and it was tough because we didn’t know how much time we’d have with it. I said something about it, expressing something about hoping it’d be all right. And all I remember is Evans sitting there, turning to me and saying, “Fuck it. I just want it to be good.”

And I thought, that’s really from the heart, that’s all he really wanted. When push came to shove, he didn’t care about the publicity or the deadline or anything. ‘Fuck it. I just want it to be good.’ It was said with such feeling. And it coincided with what I wanted too.
He was wonderful and infuriating and I loved him very much.”

Bruce Dern, who worked with Evans on “Black Sunday,” said in a statement, “I worked for two great producers in my career, Bob Evans and Joseph Levine. And the thing that made Bob different from the others was his care to make sure his actors were comfortable and had a space to work in where they could be most creative at all times. He was a prince.”

And online creators in the entertainment industry celebrated Evans’ life with memories and tributes.

Actor Michael McKean (“Better Call Saul,” “This Is Spinal Tap”) remembered Evans with listening to comedian Patton Oswalt’s (“Ratatouille”) album “OpAphid vs. Robert Evans – Patton Oswalt Explains.”

“The Social Network” and “House of Cards” producer Dana Brunetti, described Evans as, “One of the best story tellers this business ever had. He and his story was the driving force for me to pursue producing.”

Writer on “American Crime Story” and “Dolemite Is My Name,” Larry Karaszewski paid tribute with an old shot from the Paramount lot.

Sasha Grey (“Entourage”) said Evans produced “some of the best films ever made.”

“Russian Doll” actor Natasha Lyonne cited Evans as a legend.

Apple editor Steve Kandell credited Evans with the creation of the audiobook.

“Pictures at a Revolution” author Mark Harris honored Evans’ mysterious life.