Richard Glatzer, who co-wrote and directed the Alzheimer’s drama Still Alice, alongside his husband, Wash Westmoreland, while battling ALS, has died.
He was 63.
Diagnosed in 2011 with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the pair took on the project of Still Alice, in a very early stage of Glatzer’s disease.
During the 23-day shoot, Glatzer communicated with one finger using a text-to-speech app on his iPad.
By the time of the press tour for the film in late 2014, Glatzer was only able to communicate by typing on the device with his big toe.
Their film earned star Julianne Moore her first Oscar for her portrayal of an academic suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s.
Unable to attend the ceremony, Glatzer watched Moore’s win on February 22 from a hospital, where he had been taken two days prior for respiratory problems. Westmoreland watched by his side.
Glatzer started his career in academia, earning a doctorate in English from the University of Virginia before turning his attention to film and television.
He met Westmoreland in 1995. The couple collaborated on four films as co-writers and directors, including the 2006 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience winner Quinceaera.
Glatzer also worked on a number of television shows including Road Rules, Divorce Court and America’s Next Top Model.
But it was Still Alice, that was to be Glatzer’s crowning achievement.
“It’s ironic that in my deteriorated state I’d be able to make a film that was creatively everything I’d ever wished for,” Glatzer reflected to The Associated Press in late 2014 while promoting the film.
The parallels between Glatzer and their lead character’s degenerative diseases helped to inform the adaptation of author Lisa Genova’s best-seller.
“Many of the neurological appointments that Alice had in the book echoed appointments that Richard had when they were testing to see if he’d had a stroke – like what’s today’s date, where are we, all that stuff. It was eerily similar,” Westmoreland said during the same interview.
“Rich is an incredibly strong person, and never let the disease get him down. He always wanted to keep life as normal as possible,” he added.
In addition to Westmoreland, Glatzer is survived by his daughter, Ruby Smith; his sister, Joan Kodner, and her husband, David; and his nieces and nephews.