Tim Burton pays tribute to Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens, saying that his career wouldn’t have happened if without him.
Many of us were shocked and saddened when it was announced this morning that Paul Reubens had died at the age of 70 following a six-year battle with cancer. Tributes from all corners of Hollywood have been rolling in, including from Tim Burton, who directed Paul Reubens in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
Tim Burton was just 25 years old when he directed Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which was his very first feature-film. The director took to Instagram to pay tribute to his friend and to thank him for starting his career.
“Shocked and saddened,” Tim Burton wrote. “I’ll never forget how Paul helped me at the beginning of my career. It would not have happened without his support. He was a great artist. I’ll miss him.“
Paul Reubens chose Tim Burton to direct Pee-wee’s Big Adventure after being impressed by his Vincent and Frankenweenie short films. “I think it was the wallpaper in Frankenweenie, in the second shot of the movie,” Reubens told Collider in 2016. “From the first minute of his film, I could tell that he was somebody who was very interested in style. He brought style to something, and a lot of young directors aren’t there yet. A lot of people who have directed for long careers still don’t have much style. So, I could tell that he had a style, and that he understood production design and art direction.” After Burton’s career exploded, he would reunite with Reubens for Batman Returns and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The Pee-wee Herman actor left behind a message for his fans: “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last six years. I have always felt a huge amount of love and respect from my friends, fans and supporters. I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you.” In another statement, his estate added, “Last night we said farewell to Paul Reubens, an iconic American actor, comedian, writer and producer whose beloved character Pee-wee Herman delighted generations of children and adults with his positivity, whimsy and belief in the importance of kindness. Paul bravely and privately fought cancer for years with his trademark tenacity and wit. A gifted and prolific talent, he will forever live in the comedy pantheon and in our hearts as a treasured friend and man of remarkable character and generosity of spirit.“