John Refoua, ACE, who earned an Oscar nomination for editing James Cameron‘s Avatar along with the director and Stephen Rivkin, died on Sunday from complications related to bile cancer. He was 58.
Refoua first worked with Cameron on the director’s 2003 documentary Ghosts of the Abyss. He broke into the studio system with the 2007 comedy Balls of Fury and Reno 911!: Miami before landing the Avatar gig, and Cameron brought him back more than a decade later to work on Avatar: The Way of Water alongside Rivkin and David Brenner.
In between the Avatar movies, Refoua was Antoine Fuqua‘s go-to Editor, as he cut Olympus Has Fallen, The Equalizer, Southpaw, and The Magnificent Seven. His feature credits also include Transformers: The Last Knight and Geostorm.
On the TV side, Refoua got his start as an Assistant Editor on the original Twin Peaks series, and he went on to cut episodes of Law & Order, New York Undercover, CSI: Miami, Touched By an Angel, and Cameron’s Dark Angel.
Last spring, Refoua was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of bile duct cancer, though he continued to work hard, and his wife, Serena Refoua, told Variety that he was working on Avatar 3 up to the final weeks of his life.
“My brilliant, sweet, creative husband John Djahanshah Refoua passed away on May 14 surrounded by family and friends who loved him,” Serena shared in a statement. “Despite the pain and complexities of this aggressive disease, he faced it with courage and grit… His life’s trajectory was quite unique and anything he touched, he made better.”
Refoua is survived by his wife, Serena, and his granddaughter, Avery Sophia.