Tom Hanks hails Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme

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Tom Hanks has led tributes to The Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme, who has died from complications from oesophageal cancer at the age of 73.

Hanks, who won an Oscar for his performance in Demme's film Philadelphia, told the Press Association: "Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living.

"He was the grandest of men."

The director won an Academy Award for The Silence Of The Lambs in 1991, and was responsible for films including Rachel Getting Married, Something Wild and the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate as well as the landmark 1984 concert movie, Stop Making Sense featuring Talking Heads.

His publicist said: "Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.

"He died from complications from oesophageal cancer and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21.

"There will be a private family funeral. Any possible further plans will be announced later. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami."

The Silence Of The Lambs was the third film in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories of best picture, actor, actress, director and adapted screenplay, while Philadephia, which teamed Hanks with Denzel Washington, was one of the first Hollywood films to tackle the Aids crisis.

Other directors paid tribute to Demme, with Ron Howard tweeting: "Jonathan Demme was a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague. I've known very few like him. He will be missed."

Barry Jenkins, who made Oscar-winning film Moonlight, wrote: "Met tons through the Moonlight run but my man Demme was the kindest, most generous. A MASSIVE soul. He lived in love. And rests in peace."

Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright added: "Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jonathan Demme. Admired his movies, his documentaries, his concert films. He could do anything.

"Too many great films to mention: Something Wild, Stop Making Sense, Silence Of The Lambs, Melvin & Howard, among countless varied others."

Line Of Duty star Thandie Newton, who starred in his films Beloved and The Truth About Charlie, wrote on Twitter: "Deeply saddened by the passing of the most brilliant man - director, father, friend, activist. Devastating to let him go. I love you JD xT."

Christine Lahti, who starred in his film Swing Shift opposite Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, said: "RIP dearest Jonathan Demme. The world lost one of its purest, most loving and talented souls today. My heart is broken. I love you."

Born in Nassau County, New York in 1944, Demme wrote and directed his first feature film Caged Heat in 1974, and followed it up with 1975 road movie Crazy Mama.

His 1980 film Melvin And Howard landed Mary Steenburgen a best supporting actress Oscar and led to him directing blockbuster Swing Shift.

After the film with Hawn and Russell, Demme stepped back from Hollywood to make the Stop Making Sense, which followed his short film Talking Heads: Once In A Lifetime.

He was greatly admired for his music filmmaking and directed videos for Bruce Springsteen, New Order and The Pretenders as well as UB40 and Chrissie Hynde's cover of I Got You Babe.

He also made multiple documentaries about Neil Young, as well as projects about Kenny Chesney and former US president Jimmy Carter.

Horror author Stephen King also paid tribute to the director, tweeting: "Deeply sad to hear my friend, neighbour and colleague Jonathan Demme has passed on. He was one of the real good guys. I miss you, buddy."

Demme's most recent project was a Justin Timberlake concert film, Justin Timberlake And The Tennessee Kids, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September where the singer hailed Demme as a "genius" and said Stop Making Sense changed the way he wanted to see live music.