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Richard Roeper on his colleague and friend Roger Ebert: 'He was a true fan of the movies.'

Legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who died Thursday at age 70, was known for his Chicago Sun-Times reviews he wrote solo, but many movie fans were introduced to him in his collaborative projects, when he and another critic supplied audiences with entertaining and thought-provoking discourse about film on his multiple TV shows. He brought his discussions about the movies to television with the late Chicago Tribune writer Gene Siskel at his side, first on Coming Soon to a Theater Near You and later on Siskel and Ebert and the Movies. Beginning in 2000, his movie talks featured fellow Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper.

When EW spoke to Roeper today, he said that though Ebert’s death was somewhat expected following his long battle with thyroid cancer, “it still came as a shock, and when the moment comes, it still comes far too soon, and I feel it first and foremost as a loss of my friend, a wonderful friend and family man.”

Roeper told EW it has been “remarkable” seeing the “outpouring of sympathy, the attention” on Ebert’s career in the past day since the Chicago Sun-Times first reported his death on Thursday. While notable filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese and even President Barack Obama released statements in memoriam of the celebrated film critic, Roeper has also heard from “15-year-olds who say they want to become movie critics or they want to become filmmakers in great part because they were such great fans of Roger’s work on television and his writing as well.”
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