Don Payne, a four-time Emmy Award winner for The Simpsons who co-wrote the screenplay to the Thor movie and its sequel, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. He was believed to be 48.
Actresses Kat Dennings and Jaimie Alexander, who appeared in Thor (2011) and will be back for the November sequel Thor: The Dark World, tweeted the news Wednesday.
Payne, a self-professed “comic book geek,” also was behind the scripts for My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) and Columbia’s upcoming Maximum Ride, based on James Patterson’s young adult novel.
Payne started on The Simpsons in 2000 and wrote 16 episodes of the long-running Fox series and served as a consulting producer on 100.
He also worked on a series of failed TV sitcoms in the 90s: Hope & Gloria, Pride & Joy, Can’t Hurry Love, Men Behaving Badly, Veronica’s Closet and The Brian Benben Show. Payne teamed for years with fellow screenwriter John Frink, whom he met when both attended UCLA.
“They all fall under the category of ‘paying your dues,” Payne told The Huffington Post in 2006. “As a TV writer or any writer starting out, you have to take whatever work you can get to break into the business. It might not be something you love or something you’re particularly proud of, but you’ve got to do it to pay the bills and get your foot in the door. You hope it leads you to bigger and better things something you love.”
Dennings called Payne “a wonderful, beautiful man. … I am lucky to have known you. You are so missed.”
Added Alexander: “My heart is broken. You were a wonderful funny man who helped change my life and I will always love you. The world is less today. Don, may you rest in peace and may peace and love be with your family. You are in my heart always.”