The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Zack Snyder has stepped down from directing the upcoming film Justice League to deal with the death of his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn Snyder, who committed suicide in March. His wife, Deborah Snyder, who is a producer on superhero movie, is also taking a break to spend more time with the family.
Joss Whedon, the Avengers director and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will take over to shepherd the film through post and shooting of some additional scenes. With his help, the movie is still on track for its original release date of Nov. 17, 2017.
Snyder’s daughter death has been kept private, only those closed to the family are aware of what happened, even as the movie was put on hold for two weeks for the director to deal with the effects of the tragedy. He initially said he was excited to return to the film, which stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller.
“In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it,” Snyder said in an emotional interview on Monday with Deborah sitting by his side. “The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all-consuming. And in the last two months, I’ve come to the realization … I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
The studio supported his decision. “What they are going through is unimaginable, and my heart — our hearts — go out to them,” said Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. Pictures president.
The Man of Steel director, who has seven other kids and step-kids with wife Deborah, confessed that he want to keep his daughter’s death private, but being in a high-profile status made it quite impossible.
“Here’s the thing, I never planned to make this public,” he shared. “I thought it would just be in the family, a private matter, our private sorrow that we would deal with. When it became obvious that I need to take a break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do. The truth is … I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.”
Snyder said that Autumn’s death has changed his outlook in life and focus on what truly matters.
“I want the movie to be amazing, and I’m a fan, but that all pales pretty quickly in comparison,” he revealed. “I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie, but there are seven other kids that need me. In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie.”
Deborah also told The Hollywood Reporter that Autumn, who was attending Sarah Lawrence College, loved “to write, to write, to write.” Their daughter had written a sci-fi fantasy book in the first person. It featured a character who had trouble fitting in and was an outsider.
Deborah is holding on to the fact that she was the first person her daughter gave the book to read, even now as the story takes on a new meaning under what happened. “You’re hearing her voice,” she said, fighting back the tears.
The family would like to see the novel published someday, with the proceeds going to a charity. “In the end, she didn’t make it, but her character does, and I think there would be something cathartic for people,” Zack said.
The director said his daughter had a quote that she included in everything she wrote. It’s from author Chuck Palahniuk: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
“Maybe this helps,” he added.