Robin Hardy, the British director of cult film The Wicker Man, has died, the BBC reports.
A family friend confirmed to the news outlet on Saturday that Hardy had died Friday. He was 86 years old.
The Wicker Man, the 1973 horror-fantasy-comedy film that marked Hardy’s directorial debut, has amassed a significant cult following since its release, inspiring a Nicolas Cage-led 2006 remake and a 2011 sequel of sorts, The Wicker Tree, written and directed by Hardy.
Christopher Lee, who starred in the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars films, wrote in his autobiography that The Wicker Man was “the best-scripted film I ever took part in.”
Despite this undeniable success, in his early career a certain famous editor almost shot down Hardy’s dreams of being a writer.
“Years ago, when I was writing novels and short stories, my editor was Jacqueline [Kennedy] Onassis,” he said in a 2011 interview. “Jackie once said to me, ‘You will never be a really successful writer, Robin, unless you take your tongue out of your cheek.’ ”
Hardy wryly added: “Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to do that because, as you know, my tongue has always been planted rather firmly in my cheek.”
Hardy wrote only two other films: The Fantasist, which he also directed, in 1986 and Forbidden Sun in 1989. At the time of his death, he was working on a new film, The Wrath of the Gods.
Despite many forays into other creative pursuits, including writing several novels, helping design historical theme parks and trying his hand at painting, Hardy maintained that he was first and foremost a filmmaker.
“For the first two and a half decades of my life, I made my living entirely out of film,” he told Flickfeast in 2015. “Slowly but surely, writing novels became something I was interested in, and painting has always been part of my leisure life. But novels take a long time to write and research, so I’m happy to break up my work life in that way.”