The filmmaker behind the McDonald’s documentary “Super Size Me” dies at 53

The filmmaker behind the McDonald’s documentary “Super Size Me” dies at 53
The filmmaker behind the McDonald’s documentary “Super Size Me” dies at 53

(CNN) — Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker and former CNN anchor whose McDonald’s documentary “Super Size Me” was nominated for an Academy Award, died Thursday of complications from cancer, his family said.

Spurlock, who was 53, died in New York, surrounded by family and friends, his brother said in a statement.

“It was a sad day when we said goodbye to my brother Morgan,” Craig Spurlock said. “Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas and generosity. The world has lost a true creative genius and a special man. “I am very proud to have worked alongside him.”

Spurlock’s directing career was varied and unpredictable. He was best known for “Super Size Me,” which sparked a national conversation (and no shortage of controversy) about America’s relationship with fast food. The film involved his experiment in which he consumed only McDonald’s food for 30 days and required him to “upsize” his food order if requested in the sales transaction.

But he also made a satirical documentary about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, directed a movie about a One Direction concert, and even made a movie about Homer Simpson and baseball.
For several years, Spurlock hosted a popular CNN original series, “Morgan Spurlock Inside Man.”

Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the future filmmaker grew up in Beckley, where he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. He then graduated from New York University in 1993.

Spurlock was the founder of the New York-based production studio Warrior Poets and his first film, “Super Size Me,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, where it earned him the honor of best director.

The film won the inaugural Best Documentary Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of America, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.

Spurlock’s willingness in that documentary to be used to experiment with the effects of eating fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner fascinated audiences. He gained 25 pounds (11 kilos) and documented the negative effects it had on his body.

His film “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken” was released in 2019.

Buoyed by the success of his first project, Spurlock delved into other documentaries, including 2008’s “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?” and 2011’s “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” He also created the series reality show “30 Days” in 2005 and helped Hulu dive into original programming with the platform’s first series, “A Day in the Life.”

In 2017, as the #MeToo movement gathered pace, Spurlock admitted to past sexual misconduct in a statement posted on social media.

“After months of these revelations, I have come to understand that I am not an innocent bystander, but I am also part of the problem,” he wrote at the time, referencing the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men.

He resigned as CEO of his production company.

Spurlock was also a prolific writer and producer. Some of his other credits include “Rats,” “7 Deadly Sins” and “No Man’s Land.”

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