The producer of The Fly, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder, Stuart Cornfeld has passed away at the age of 67. He died of cancer according to The Hollywood Reporter. The main source of notoriety was his association with Ben Stiller and his role in bringing wild comedies like Dodgeball to life. Cornfeld was born in Tarzana in 1952 and was named as part of the American Film Institute’s class of 1975. While there were other contributions along the way like The Fly and Kafka, helping Stiller launch Red Hour Films would prove to be the move that drew large crowds toward his work. A lot of the comedies that fans of Stiller and his band of famous buddies made famous are directly from Cornfeld’s work.
Zoolander got things going and the Duplex, Starsky & Hutch, Dodgeball, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Blades of Glory, and Tropic Thunder all followed. If you spent a lot of time at the movies laughing in the early aughts, there was a good chance that Cornfeld’s work was represented in your favorites. In 2013, AFI had an interview with the producer after he received the Franklin J. Schaffer Alumni Medal. He mused on what he had learned and the path that had taken him towards this kind of success. A lot of his films focused on the idea of the everyman, and that concept held a lot of weight for the producer.
A really great person left the planet today. Stuart Cornfeld was as funny, smart, talented & cool as a person gets. He was my friend, producing partner, and creative confidant. He knew movies, made movies and loved movies. World=less better without him. IMDB him. He was the best. pic.twitter.com/sOx85UvxC4— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) June 27, 2020
“Well, he's an Everyman, but within him – just like with THE ELEPHANT MAN or any kind of character who's marginalized, or where people define who they are by the way they look – he is a much bigger character within than he is without. [MITTY screenwriter] Steve Conrad had a line: "Within every man beats the heart of a hero." To me, he was always a guy who felt that he was smaller than life, and he felt he needed to be larger than life,” Cornfeld said. “And I think the movie is about him realizing that life, in and of itself, is probably the most interesting.”
“Honestly? There's nothing terribly important about a producer, I believe. I mean, honestly, what you want to do is just make the films that you work on better,” he reflected. “And I think that I really, really, really like working with strong directors. It's an incredibly difficult job to do well, and I've been very lucky to work with a lot of people who do it really well.”
He’s survived by his sisters Lois and Ellen, along with his ex-wife Johanna Went.
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for GIFF