James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and More Remember Jon Landau: “He Gave Everyone a Sense of Purpose and Belonging” (2024)

James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Zoe Saldaña, Alan Bergman, Peter Jackson and Avatar: The Way of Water cast and crewmembers are among those in Hollywood paying tribute to Jon Landau, who died Friday at 63.

Landau was an Oscar-winning producer, most known for his collaborations with Cameron on blockbuster films includingTitanicand theAvatarfranchise. His other credits include Alita: Battle Angel, Solaris and Honey, I Shrunk theKids.

Cameron remembered his longtime friend in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, writing, “A great producer and a great human being has left us.Jon Landau believed in the dream of cinema.He believed that film is the ultimate human art form, and to make films you have to first be human yourself.He will be remembered as much for his vast generosity of spirit as for the movies themselves.”

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“I worked with Jon Landau for 31 years and I never saw him downcast once,” the filmmaker added.“He led with a balance of humor and fierce will, and true joy in the work.When I met him, he was the studio ‘suit’ assigned to overseeTrue Liesin ’93.In the midst of the logistical nightmare of that production we came to respect and enjoy each other.A bond forged in fire.I lured him away from Fox to join my production company, Lightstorm and together we then tackledTitanic, a production as ambitious and seemingly ill-fated as the ship itself.Jon bore the brunt of the studio pressure and gave his all to provide the time and resources for me to make the film I saw in my head.From that we became brothers in arms.We believed we could solve any production problem.The next mountain we climbed wasAvatar, a production that more resembled the Manhattan Project…making up new physics as we went along.Mastering a brand new methodology to tell stories.Again Jon gave his all, and never lost faith that we were doing something extraordinary and that we would somehow prevail.In the process we not only made a film, we forged a family.Jon was the heart of the Avatar family, with his humor, generosity and enormous capacity to make people feel valued and ‘seen.’He gave everyone a sense of purpose and belonging.And this continued through the making of the sequels.It is impossible to convey how much our tight knit group will miss this man, this force of nature… the center of gravity of our little bubble universe.Jon created a community, a family, on Avatar and at Lightstorm, but not at the expense of his own family, who were always his highest priority.”

Cameron continued in his heartfelt tribute, “Jon was my right hand and I was his.In recent years we became a trapeze act…total interdependence, total trust, total synchronization.We became not only the closest of working partners, but the closest of friends.My last message to him was not only that I loved him but that I missed our daily dialogue.We would talk twenty times a day, usually in his office which he placed strategically between mine and the set.Solving every problem that came along.Jon had the strength to tell me when I was wrong, and I learned over the years to trust that he was right.Jon loved his work, and loved the people around him, the amazing team he had built.Every day was joyful battle, against entropy — the chaos that threatens to unravel every human endeavor.The center always held, under Jon’s watchful eye.We fought through the pandemic together to deliverAvatar: The Way of Water.Together, we thought we could solve anything.But you can’t solve the fragility of life itself.I am grateful for every year, every day, every minute we had together.I am grateful for the belief he had in me and what his partnership allowed us to accomplish together.A part of myself has been torn away.But the amazing team he assembled and led still remains, and we will dedicate ourselves to fulfilling Jon’s legacy.Not just the films yet to come, but the love and connection that binds the Avatar and Lightstorm family together.”

DiCaprio, who starred in 1997’s Titanic, told The Hollywood Reporter Landau “was an incredibly kind, wise, and empathetic soul, who wanted to create nothing but a positive impact on anyone or anything approached. His legacy and leadership will live on forever. My condolences are with his entire family. Rest in peace; you will be deeply missed.”

Kate Winslet, who also starred in Titanic, told THR: “Jon Landau was the kindest and best of men. Having known him since I was 20 years old, I can honestly say that his passion for filmmaking only deepened with age. He was a man who was rich with compassion and exceptional at supporting and nurturing teams of phenomenal creative people. His strength in life was knowing the importance of family, at home and at work. He was always full of smiles and gratitude. I can’t believe I am writing this, can’t believe he is gone.”

Saldaña, who starred in 2009’s Avatar and 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water, also wrote in a tribute on Instagram following the news of his death, “Words are hard to put together right now, your passing is hitting really hard. You are leaving us too soon, my thoughts are with you and your family right now. Your wisdom and support shaped so many of us in ways we will always be grateful for. The memories we shared together will always hold a special place in my heart. Your legacy will continue to inspire us and guide us in our journey. Rest in peace, dear Jon. You will be deeply missed.”

Sam Worthington, who starred alongside Saldaña in both Avatar films, said in a statement, “Jon was all heart.He made everything and everyone he touched feel they could be better. He led with humor and strength, compassion and kindness.The People say all energy is borrowed and someday you have to give it back.I see you, Jon.”

Alan Bergman, co-chairman of Disney Entertainment, shared in a statement, “Jon was a visionary whose extraordinary talent and passion brought some of the most unforgettable stories to life on the big screen. His remarkable contributions to the film industry have left an indelible mark, and he will be profoundly missed. He was an iconic and successful producer yet an even better person and a true force of nature who inspired all around him.”

Lord of the RingsdirectorPeter Jacksonand screenwriterFran Walsh,whose digital visual effects and animation company Wētā FX worked with Landau on theAvatarfilms, also remembered the producer in a joint statement shared with THR.

“We speak for the entire Wētā FX team when we say we aredevastatedby the loss of Jon Landau,” they wrote. “Jon was not only a monumental figure in the film industry but also a cherished collaborator and friend.Jon brought unparalleled passion to the projects he workedon andhis influence will continue to inspire for years to come. Our deepest condolencesare with Jon’s family and loved ones, as well as Jim and the Lightstorm Entertainment team.”

Joe Letteri, who won the best achievement in visual effects Oscar for his work on Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water, paid tribute to Landau, writing in a statement, “I am heartbroken at the loss of our friend Jon Landau. He was an amazing and generous man, and a world-class film maker who leaves a legacy that will last for generations. On behalf of all of us atWētā FX, itwas an honor to work beside him. His dedication to the art of film making inspired us every day. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Filmmaker Michael Mann wrote in a tribute, “Jon’s level of brilliance at what he did and his drive only occurs in those rare individuals who have within them a bright shining enthusiasm for creating and it lights up everything. I loved working with Jon on Manhunter and Mohicans and in the years following he was always there with his generous spirit and advice. What a wonderful man and a terrible loss for his family. Heartfelt condolences.”

Read more tributes below.

“The Avatar family grieves the loss of our friend and leader, Jon Landau. His zany humor, personal magnetism, great generosity of spirit and fierce will have held the center of our Avatar universe for almost two decades. His legacy is not just the films he produced, but the… pic.twitter.com/fsR77qHoO2

— Avatar (@officialavatar) July 7, 2024

Rest in Peace Jon Landau. Jon was the producing partner for the legendary James Cameron, and produced incredibly successful movies like Avatar (1 and 2), Titanic, True Lies and Die Hard among many others. A truly wonderful man, we lost him today, at the way-too-young age of 63. pic.twitter.com/RvxhppVUvA

— Adam Aron (@CEOAdam) July 7, 2024

Honoring Jon Landau, the visionary producer of Titanic. His remarkable impact on cinema will go on forever. pic.twitter.com/MA4JvHm0Dm

— Titanic (@TitanicMovie) July 6, 2024

James Cameron’s producer partner, Jon Landau, has followed Big Jim to the bottom of the sea and across the galaxy. Now, @jonlandau, has gone on an adventure Cameron can’t join him on:

The great beyond.

RIP to one of the best to ever do it. pic.twitter.com/l3ErFLBP0F

— Joe Russo (@joerussotweets) July 6, 2024

RIP Jon Landau. He helped make cinematic heaven on earth while he was here 🫡❤️ pic.twitter.com/1e9sPk5fe7

— Liam O'Donnell (@LiamODin) July 6, 2024

Devastated by the loss of my friend and Alita producer Jon Landau. He was so kind and personable that it was easy to forget he was also producing the biggest films in the world. He loved his family and his extended filmmaking family. He was a true inspiration and will be greatly… pic.twitter.com/sAukOZYbiK

— Robert Rodriguez (@Rodriguez) July 7, 2024
James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and More Remember Jon Landau: “He Gave Everyone a Sense of Purpose and Belonging” (2024)
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