Super Size Me documentary star Morgan Spurlock dies at 53


Morgan Spurlock, the star of the 2004 Super Size Me documentary, has died at the age of 53 from cancer

‘It was a sad day, as we said goodbye to my brother Morgan,’ said his brother Craig Spurlock, who worked with him on several projects. 

‘Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas, and generosity. The world has lost a true creative genius and a special man. I am so proud to have worked together with him.’

His death comes 20 after Spurlock ate only at McDonald’s for a month to illustrate the dangers of a fast-food diet. 

The filmmaker is survived by two sons, his parents and former spouses Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein. 

‘Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas, and generosity,’ his brother, Craig Spurlock, said in a statement to ABC News

Spurlock made a splash in 2004 with his groundbreaking film. 

CANCER BATTLE

The Oscar-nominated filmmaker passed in upstate New York on Thursday and had privately been undergoing chemotherapy. 

It’s unclear what kind of cancer Spurlock was suffering or how long he had been battling it. 

His most famous project, which was nominated for an Academy Award,  chronicled the detrimental physical and psychological effects of Spurlock eating only McDonald’s food for 30 days. 

He did not allow himself to refuse the ‘super-size’ option if prompted.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SPURLOCK’S BODY IN EXPERIMENT

Once the experiment was over, Spurlock had gained about 25 pounds, saw a spike in his cholesterol, a decline in his mental health, liver damage, and lost his sex drive. 

The film was critically acclaimed and grossed $22million at the global box office, as reported by Variety. 

Following the film’s release, McDonald’s discontinued its ‘super-size’ option. 

However, the documentary’s credibility was questioned when Spurlock admitted he had been drinking heavily throughout the filming, putting his symptoms, particularly the liver damage, under new light.

The filmmaker is survived by two sons, his parents and former spouses Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein (pictured)

The filmmaker is survived by two sons, his parents and former spouses Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein (pictured)

Spurlock ate at the fast-food chain three times a day for 30 days – and did not allow himself to refuse the ‘super-size’ option if prompted 

His physical and mental health rapidly declined, and he gained 24.5 pounds by the end of the experiment

His physical and mental health rapidly declined, and he gained 24.5 pounds by the end of the experiment

SUPER SIZE ME CONTROVERSY 

Spurlock admitted that he had been drinking since the age of 13 and that at the time of the film’s production, he had not been sober ‘for more than a week in 30 years.’

In the film, a doctor told Spurlock the fast food was ‘pickling his liver’ which looked like an ‘alcoholic’s after a binge.’

He also refused to share his meal logs. 

In 2008, he released his second documentary feature, Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?, a movie about the war on terrorism.

His other notable credits include The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and 30 Days. 

Spurlock also directed the 2013 One Direction documentary/concert film One Direction: This Is Us. 

The West Virginia native produced nearly 70 documentaries through his production company Warrior Poet.

The follow-up film to Super Size Me, ‘Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!’ was removed from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival after Spurlock admitted to sexual misconduct. 

Spurlock said in a long Twitter confession that he was accused of rape while in college, settled a sexual harassment case with a female assistant at his office, and was unfaithful to all of his wives and girlfriends.

#METOO CONFESSION 

He wrote: ‘What caused me to act this way? Is it all ego? Or was it the sexual abuse I suffered as a boy and as a young man in my teens? Abuse that I only ever told to my first wife, for fear of being seen as weak or less than a man?’ 

The film was critically acclaimed and grossed $22million at the global box office

The film was critically acclaimed and grossed $22million at the global box office 

Following the film's release, McDonald's discontinued its 'super-size' option

Following the film’s release, McDonald’s discontinued its ‘super-size’ option

Spurlock is seen on the last photo of himself he uploaded to Instagram - on April 21, 2022

Spurlock is seen on the last photo of himself he uploaded to Instagram – on April 21, 2022

In his las Instagram post, on December 9, 2022, Spurlock wished his son Laken a happy 16th birthday, sharing the above image

In his las Instagram post, on December 9, 2022, Spurlock wished his son Laken a happy 16th birthday, sharing the above image

The shock statement from the popular filmmaker was made in the midst of a spate of sex crimes allegations against a number of high profile figures in the entertainment world and politics, most famous among them Harvey Weinstein. 

‘As I sit around watching hero after hero, man after man, fall at the realization of their past indiscretions, I don’t sit by and wonder “who will be next?” I wonder, “when will they come for me?”’ Spurlock wrote in 2017.

Referring to himself as ‘part of the problem,’ Spurlock recalled an instance in college when he had ‘hooked up’ with a woman during a one-night stand.

‘[We’d] been drinking all night and went back to my room,’ Spurlock wrote.

‘We began fooling around, she pushed me off, then we laid in the bed and talked and laughed some more, and then began fooling around again.

‘We took off our clothes. She said she didn’t want to have sex, so we laid together, and talked, and kissed, and laughed, and then we started having sex.’

Spurlock admitted that he had been drinking since the age of 13 and that at the time of the film's production, he had not been sober 'for more than a week in 30 years'

Spurlock admitted that he had been drinking since the age of 13 and that at the time of the film’s production, he had not been sober ‘for more than a week in 30 years’

His other notable credits include The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and 30 Days

His other notable credits include The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and 30 Days

Moments later, Spurlock recalled, the woman started to cry.

‘I didn’t know what to do,’ he wrote. ‘We stopped having sex and I rolled beside her. I tried to comfort her. To make her feel better.

‘I thought I was doing ok, I believed she was feeling better. She believed she was raped.’

Spurlock also wrote that years before he paid money to a woman that he subjected to ‘verbal’ harassment. 

‘I would call my female assistant “hot pants” or “sex pants” when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office,’ Spurlock writes.

‘Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realized I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of non-existence. ‘So, when she decided to quit, she came to me and said if I didn’t pay her a settlement, she would tell everyone.

‘Being who I was, it was the last thing I wanted, so of course, I paid,’ he said. ‘I paid for peace of mind. I paid for her silence and cooperation. Most of all, I paid so I could remain who I was.’ 

Spurlock immediately stepped down from Warrior Poets, the production company he co-founded.

‘Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!’ was released two years later. 

Spurlock was a gonzo-like filmmaker who leaned into the bizarre and ridiculous. His stylistic touches included zippy graphics and amusing music, blending a Michael Moore-ish camera-in-your-face style with his own sense of humor and pathos.

Spurlock directed the 2013 One Direction documentary/concert film One Direction: This Is Us

Spurlock was a gonzo-like filmmaker who leaned into the bizarre and ridiculous

Spurlock was a gonzo-like filmmaker who leaned into the bizarre and ridiculous

Morgan Spurlock and his first wife Alex Jamieson are seen together in 2005

Morgan Spurlock and his first wife Alex Jamieson are seen together in 2005

Since he exposed the fast-food and chicken industries, there was an explosion in restaurants stressing freshness, artisanal methods, farm-to-table goodness and ethically sourced ingredients. But nutritionally not much has changed.

‘There has been this massive shift and people say to me, “So has the food gotten healthier?” And I say, “Well, the marketing sure has,”‘ he told the AP in 2019.

Spurlock’s first wife Jamieson shared a tribute on her Instagram story on Friday from one of Spurlock’s friends. 

The tribute from David Magdael read: ‘It is with a full heart and deep sadness and lots of love that we all say goodbye to a great friend and artist my BFF – MORGAN SPURLOCK. May you rest in peace and paradise my brother! 

‘Thank you for changing the world and making us think and smile at the same time. You are so missed!! Hugs and prayers out to the SPURLOCK FAMILY. And especially to his sons Laken and Kallen.’

Jamieson shared a tribute on her Instagram story on Friday from one of Spurlock's friends

Jamieson shared a tribute on her Instagram story on Friday from one of Spurlock’s friends

In his last Instagram post, on December 9, 2022 Spurlock wrote: ‘Happy birthday Laken! My handsome giant is 16 today! I can’t believe it. I love the creative, inspiring, and passionate person you have become (not to mention being such an epic big brother). We’re so lucky to have you in our lives – now get your license so you can drive me around!’

Filmmakers have reacted to Spurlock’s death online, sending thoughts to his family.

Brett Morgan, who directed Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, wrote on X: : ‘Morgan Spurlock achieved what most artists only dream: he actually changed the world with his art. He was an amazing father, brother, friend and one of the most important and influential filmmakers of my time. My heart breaks for his family and friends.’

The Simpson’s writer and executive producer AJ Jean said: ‘V v v sad to learn of the passing of Morgan Spurlock. A very talented, funny and brilliant man and a true friend to The Simpsons. A great loss.’



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