Oscar History

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Richard Glatzer, Co-Director of Still Alice (1952-2015)

Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer. I believe this photo is from around the time of The Fluffer (2001)

Just two minutes after the last post, coincidentally about Still Alice but meant to be a random amusement, I read that Richard Glatzer the co-writer and co-director had died. He had been struggling with ALS for the past few years. If you'll excuse me getting a little sentimental, I'd like to tell you my personal story about him as a way of working through my sadness today.

I can't recall the exact circumstances of our meeting but just after I had moved to New York City in 1999, we began to talk over e-mail. He was quite literally my first online friend who was actually working in movies and television around the time I was trying to launch The Film Experience. If I remember correctly our online friendship was prompted by an interview I had done with Jackie Beat, my all time favorite drag queen, for my print zine (before the website). She had worked with Richard on his first film, the underseen gay indie dramedy Grief (1993). More...

The Grief cast from left to right: ALEXIS ARQUETTE, CRAIG CHESTER, LUCY GUTTERIDGE, JACKIE BEAT, ILEANNA DOUGLAS, and CARLTON WILBORN (who you might recognize from Madonna's "Truth or Dare")

At the time Richard and I emailed frequently and he hooked me up with a bootleg copy of Todd Haynes' banned first film "Superstar," the infamous Barbie doll film about Karen Carpenter. I felt a little bad asking for it (I knew they were friends) but he assured me that Todd loved for people to trade and share illegal copies since that was the only way -- the prehistoric era before YouTube, doncha know -- for people to see it.

In 2001, the year we talked the most, he invited me to a workprint screening of The Fluffer, his second feature. This one was co-directed with his boyfriend Wash Westmoreland who wrote the screenplay. I was still highly timid in those days about industry events and people, so the details of the evening are a total blur, 14 years later. He wasn't there for some reason and it was just Wash who I met for the first time that night. Indie filmmakers and actors I'd only seen onscreen or on TV in the Indie Spirit tent were at the screening. I was terrified. We finally met in Los Angeles a year later at a Julianne Moore event for Far From Heaven (he was with her group) but we didn't have much time to talk since he was heading out to dinner with her.

He was always so kind and complimentary to me. Looking back on those few years were we spoke regularly, I realize in retrospect that he was trying to extend a hand, perhaps to ease my transition from excited film fan to movie blogger of some subculture reknown. I was too young and timid and foolish to really grab that hand but I so appreciated it being offered, then and now. Even moreso in retrospect, actually, since helping hands are not as frequent as any of us need them to be. Which is why they're such beautiful gestures.

Though I'm embarrassed to admit it, we lost touch quite some time ago, well before his ALS diagnosis. Somewhere between our happy meeting at the Far From Heaven (2002) and Quinceañera (2006) when I was waffling about what to do with my life and working insane hours for Corporate America while also trying to run this blog on the side, the e-mails got less and less frequent and our online friendship faded away. But I'll always remember him as a very kind and smart guy who really loved the cinema and elated, like myself, when others felt the same. He was pretty thrilled to actually be directing them which Julianne Moore so beautifully reminded us on Oscar night.

And finally, to our filmmakers, Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, who had hoped to be here tonight but they can’t because of Richard’s health.

When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies and that’s what he did.

My condolescences to his family and friends, not only the ones we all collectively worship like Julianne & Todd, but the ones we don't even know. But especially our thoughts go out to his husband Wash Westmoreland. They were already a couple before I "met" Richard over e-mails all those years ago and that's a long time to share your life with someone. It's so wonderful that their last big adventure together, Still Alice, turned out so well and they gave us all the gift of Julianne Moore crowned an Oscar winner. That's a gift that no one else has ever been able to deliver and a lovely grace note by which to end his unusual but persistent indie film career. 

Richard with Kristen Stewart, Wash and Julianne Moore (they had been friends for many years before Still Alice)

Related: Julianne Moore's Oscar Win

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Reader Comments (17)

No need to excuse yourself for being sentimental because a moment like this warrants it. Thank you for sharing that memory with us.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

For some reason, I thought Still Alice was the only film they had done. Everything in the promo made it sound that way, at least to me. The Fluffer is such an odd, but wonderful film.

Thanks for sharing this piece with us.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Rest in peace.

Loved Quinceañera

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Rip! Eternal gratitude For Still Alice and Julianne's Oscar winning

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Been following his career since the wonderful Grief. The triumph of Still Alice is some consolation, but what a sad illness and untimely death. RIP.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Very moving. Thanks for sharing.

March 11, 2015 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Watching Still Alice it definitely felt like the directors' personal experience was informing the proceedings (how could it not, really?). There was some debate over the film's merits outside of Moore's performance, but I'm firmly onboard with the people who think it's a strong piece of work.


March 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Thank you so much for sharing this Nathaniel. Thoughts are with his loved ones. "...he said he wanted to make movies and that's what he did." Just lovely.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Very lovely tribute for a 21st Century friendship, Nathaniel. My thoughts go out to Wash.

I've meant to watch Quinceañera for years-- now I'll do so!

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

RIP and what a wonderful and touching piece about the man.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRami

This is a lovely tribute. RIP.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I'm sorry, there's something in my eye...

That was beautiful, Nathaniel. I really loved that part of Julianne's speech. So touching - I don't think I've ever seen an actor honor their director so eloquently and movingly in an Oscar speech.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

THis is sad news, but a beautiful tribute from you.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.


Thank you for sharing, Nathaniel. That was lovely.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Dear Nathaniel,

Still Alice touched my heart;
Julianne's performance touched my heart;
Westmoreland and Glatzer's history touched my heart;

And your post, as usual, has touched my heart.

I truly hope everybody can find some peace in their hearts and minds.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo - Brazil

I too was moved by your thoughts on a great man who truly lived. Thank you Nathaniel.

March 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChrisConcert

thank you all for the kind notes on this post. Writing always helps me work through things. glad people have seen his films!

March 12, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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