Although Anthony Bourdain and Darren Aronofsky had been friends since 2014, their last trip together to Bhutan in December for the season finale of Parts Unknown was a pivotal moment in their friendship.
While reflecting on the episode, which aired on Sunday, Aronofsky penned a touching tribute for CNN, in which he spoke about the time he shared with Bourdain, who died by suicide on June 8. The pair had previously traveled together to Madagascar for the series but Aronofsky wrote that “Bhutan was where I really got to know Tony.”
The director noted how “it seems ironic now” that they concluded their visit to the small country in Southeast Asia by filming a Bhutanese death ritual.
“We debated the fate of the country, the fate of the world,” Aronofsky recalled. “He was perplexed as to how mankind’s endless hunger to consume could be curtailed. ” ‘Don’t we all want flat screen TV’s?’ he asked.”
“Hard truths spinning in the smoke of incense in one of the most perfect spots nature has to offer. Isn’t that what we expect from Tony?” he added.
Bourdain himself touched on mortality throughout the episode. “It is considered enlightening and therapeutic to think about death for a few minutes a day,” he says in a voice over. “Life is but a dream.”
Aronofsky, who directed Mother!, the Jennifer Lawrence film which Bourdain called “his masterpiece”, also paid his respects to Bourdain’s humble personality in the CNN tribute.
“He never adjusted his hair or gave a damn about makeup or a lighting setup,” Aronofsky wrote. “He was always dressed perfectly for whatever we were doing — never flashy, never understated. He just showed up, and he worked. I have rarely witnessed talent on his scale be so willingly present and real.”
Continuing, the director remarked, “Tony was just himself: humble, confident, authentic, mischievous, kind. He greeted every fan’s request for a selfie with patience and a smile.”
Immediately following Bourdain’s death, Aronofsky released a statement sharing that he was “devastated” over losing his “loyal friend,” whom he called “an inspiration.”
“Always sensitive, always connected, always inquisitive, always fun. We had great times exploring Madagascar and Bhutan together. I will never forget his spirit, his conviction, his professionalism, his passion, his love for his daughter, his love for Asia and her kids, his vision, his stories, his drive for justice, and his wicked sense of humor. Thank you Tony,” his statement read.
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Last week, a toxicology report revealed that Bourdain, who was cremated in France, had no narcotics in his system at the time of death. His remains and belongings were sent to his younger brother, Christopher, according to the New York Times.
Bourdain’s mother Gladys told the publication that his family will have a small, private ceremony as “he would want as little fuss as possible.”
Every episode of Parts Unknown can be viewed on CNN.it/go.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.