The Heartbreaking Death Of Super Size Me Director, Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock, star, writer, and director of the 2004 exposé-style documentary "Super Size Me," has passed away at the age of 53. His family announced today that the filmmaker had died on the 23rd of May due to complications from cancer. Spurlock is survived by his sons, Laken and Kallen; his mother, Phyllis Spurlock; father Ben (Iris); siblings Craig (Carolyn) and Barry (Buffy); his nieces and nephews; and the mothers of his two sons, Alexandra Jamieson and Sara Bernstein.

Born in 1970 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the director of over 70 documentaries and television series had undergone chemotherapy treatment earlier this year. His family shared with Deadline that Spurlock passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones in New York, adding, "[He] fearlessly challenged modern conventions utilizing humor and wit to shed light on societal issues. His films inspired critical thinking and encouraged viewers to question the status quo."

Spurlock's super-sized success

Spurlock's primary claim to fame came from the overnight success of his 2004 fast food documentary "Super Size Me." In the film, the director committed to eating nothing but McDonald's for 30 days to explore how that can affect one's body and mind. He followed a self-imposed stipulation that he had to "super-size" his meal if given the option by the person taking his order. By the end of the movie, Spurlock had gained 25 pounds and claimed that he was suffering from depression and liver malfunction. 

After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie grossed $22 million globally – a tidy sum for a documentary. It also earned the director a nod from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. Soon after "Super Size Me" was released, McDonald's was mired in controversy and stopped offering its "super-size" option for customers to upgrade the size of their crispy french fries and soda, though both Spurlock and McDonald's deny the movie was the motivation for doing so. 

The film started a public dialogue about fast food restaurants around the country and how nutritious their products are, and it is still used today as an educational tool in various academic spaces. However, it is not entirely free from criticism due to Spurlock's refusal to publicly release his diet logs from the experience.

Spurlock kept busy after Super Size Me

After his success with Super Size Me, Spurlock worked on many documentaries over the years with his production company Warrior Poets. Some notable projects include "Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden," a film where, given the ongoing years of the war, Spurlock himself attempts to find the infamous wanted terrorist, and "30 Days," a which looked at minimum wage and immigrant labor. He also produced "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!" in 2019, focusing on the practices in the chicken industry as well and how family farms and restaurants are not equipped to compete with large industry/chains in the modern economy. The filmmaker also directed a One Direction concert flick and produced a film about Homer Simpson and baseball.

His brother, Craig Spurlock, worked with him on a number of projects, including "Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man and 7 Deadly Sins," a Showtime docuseries that presents a contemporary analysis of the seven deadly sins: lust, greed, gluttony, pride, envy, sloth, and wrath. Craig Spurlock said in a statement to Variety, "It was a sad day, as we said goodbye to my brother Morgan. Morgan gave so much through his art, ideas and generosity. Today the world has lost a true creative genius and a special man. I am so proud to have worked together with him."