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Curtis Hanson, Director of ‘L.A. Confidential’ and ‘8 Mile,’ Dies at 71

LOS ANGELES — Curtis Hanson, who won a screenwriting Oscar for "L.A. Confidential" and directed the psychological thriller "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" and Eminem's tale of Detroit hip-hop "8 Mile," has died. He was 71.

Paramedics declared Hanson dead at his Hollywood Hills home late Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles police spokesman Tony Im said. Hanson died of natural causes, Im said, but he did not have further details.

Image: 8 Mile - 2002
Eminem and Curtis Hanson on the set of "8 Mile." Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Eminem was among many who worked with Hanson paying tribute to him after his death.

"Curtis Hanson believed in me and our crazy idea to make a rap battle movie set in Detroit," Eminem said in a statement. "He basically made me into an actor for '8 Mile.' I'm lucky I got to know him."

A native of Reno, Nevada, who grew up in Los Angeles, Hanson dropped out of high school to work as a photographer, writer and editor for the magazine Cinema.

"It was, in a sense, my film school," Hanson said in a 2002 interview with the Guardian.

He began screenwriting and directing in the early 1970s, but didn't see serious success until directing 1992's "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle." The film, starring Rebecca De Mornay as a revenge-seeking nanny, became a major hit.

Hanson went on to direct 1994's "The River Wild" with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon.

He also was in the director's chair for "Wonder Boys," the 2000 film starring Tobey Maguire and Michael Douglas that is considered his best work by many fans and critics.

Maguire said through his publicist that Hanson "was a generous and talented man. I'm grateful to have known and worked with him."

Hanson's breakthrough as an acclaimed filmmaker came with 1997's "L.A. Confidential," which he co-wrote and directed.

Image: 'Lucky You
Curtis Hanson in Rome, Italy, amid the release of his film "Lucky You." Camilla Morandi/REX/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Hanson was lauded for taking James Ellroy's massive novel "L.A. Confidential" — about cops, criminals and tabloid rags in 1950s Los Angeles — and streamlining it into a riveting thriller without losing its nuance.

"All the characters and motivations are complex in Curtis Hanson's intense, visceral noir," Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire wrote of the film.

Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. Hanson was nominated for best director and the movie for best picture.