Jonathan Demme
Jodi Foster and Jonathan Demme in 2016 Getty Images

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins have paid emotional tributes to The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme.

The acclaimed filmmaker died on Wednesday (26 April) morning in New York, following a battle with esophageal cancer.

Foster, 54, told fans that news of his passing had left her "heartbroken" as she remembered the "passionate" director.

Issuing a statement she said: "I am heartbroken to lose a friend, a mentor, a guy so singular and dynamic you'd have to design a hurricane to contain him.

"Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative.

"Just as passionate about music as he was about art, he was and will always be a champion of the soul. JD, most beloved, something wild, brother of love, director of the lambs. Love that guy. Love him so much."

Foster portrayed Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy, in The Silence of the Lambs, winning the best actress Oscar for her performance. Demme won the best director Oscar for the film, which was also awarded Oscars for best picture, best screenplay, and best actor for Hopkins.

Hopkins, 79, also paid tribute to Demme on Twitter, writing: "RIP my friend. #JonathanDemme."

Tributes poured in from the film world, with Meryl Streep describing his death as "a big loss to the caring world".

Reese Witherspoon fondly recalled Demme as "a great film-maker and a lovely man", while Anne Hathaway said he was her "favourite rebel angel".

Pop star Justin Timberlake, who worked with Demme on a concert film last year, said: "Words just aren't enough with heartache like this. The time I spent with you away from a camera and a stage made a better human out of me. You are truly irreplaceable."

Demme, who was also known for Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married, will be laid to rest in a private funeral.

He is survived by his wife, Joanne Howard, and his children Ramona, Brooklyn and Jos, reports BBC News.