Kevin Tierney, producer of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, dead at 67

Kevin Tierney, a pioneering Montreal film producer and writer, has died. His credits include Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the highest-grossing producer ever made.

Tierney also co-wrote the bilingual buddy flick that became the highest-grossing Canadian film of all time

Kevin Tierney, a Montreal film producer and writer, has died at the age of 67. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Kevin Tierney, a pioneering Montreal film producer and writer who playfully explored the province's linguistic divide, has died at the age of 67.

Tierney passed away early Saturday after a "long hard fight with cancer," his family said in a post on his Facebook page.

"My dad, the amazing Kevin Tierney, left us this morning at 4:15. My sister, mom and I were all there," his son, Jacob, wrote on Instagram.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which Tierney produced and co-wrote, is the highest-grossing Canadian film ever made. It won the 2006 Genie Award for Best Picture.

Erik Canuel, the director of Bon Cop Bad Cop, remembered Tierney as "very funny, very intelligent, very compassionate about the craft of making movies."

"We lost a great man," Canuel told CBC. "Kevin was a man of honour, he basically said what he thought, had not really a good filter, which I loved."

He said Tierney's passing will leave a big hole in the city's film scene, and that working with him was always something he looked forward to.

"He had great arguments, and he listened. He listened and he brought a lot of himself into the script and into the production."

​Bridging the divide

Bon Cop, Bad Cop, released in 2006, tells the story of two police officers — one Ontarian and one Québécois — who reluctantly join forces to solve a murder. 

Colm Feore played OPP officer Martin Ward. Patrick Huard, one of the film's other co-writers, played his Sûreté du Québec counterpart. 

The dialogue is a mixture of English and French, and the film's humour plays off the culture clash between the two officers.

"When I first heard the premise from Patrick Huard, my first reaction was, 'How the hell did we already not make this movie?'" Tierney recalled in a 2010 interview with CBC's Bernard St-Laurent.

Tierney would explore the same themes in French Immersion, a 2011 comedy that follows a group of anglophones who come to a remote town in Northern Quebec in order to learn French.

In his interview with St-Laurent, Tierney reflected on his reputation as the "anti-solitudes producer."

"It's my life. It's the way you live here. It's not strange to me. Most of my life is spent going from one language to the next," he said.

"It would be preposterous to talk to my anglophone wife and my anglophone children in French, but many of my friends, and certainly the way I make my living, is in French.

"I have an ironic take on it because I do not feel particularly Canadian and I certainly have been told I am not Québécois, and so, to me, it's like I'm a bon anglais, because I can speak French. That's it."

Robert Charlebois, left, listens to director Kevin Tierney on the set of the movie French Immersion in 2010. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

His long list of credits also include serving as executive producer for the Gemini-nominated Choice: The Henry Morgentaler Story (2003), about the doctor whose advocacy led to a Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in Canada, and One Dead Indian (2006), about the fatal shooting of an Indigenous man during a land-claims confrontation. It won a Gemini Award for best TV movie.

He also produced The Trotsky, a film about a revolutionary Montreal high school student directed by his son, Jacob. Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2 was released last year.

'His films touched us all'

Born on Aug. 27, 1950, Tierney went to high school in St. Hubert, Que., on Montreal's South Shore before attending both McGill and Concordia.

He taught English as a second language abroad before going into show business. More recently, Tierney worked as a columnist at the Montreal Gazette.

Kevin Tierney poses for photographers after winning the Best Motion Picture award for 'Bon Cop Bad Cop' at the Genie Awards in 2007. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

He served as vice-chair of cinema for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and was given a producer's award from the Canadian Film and Television Production Association in 2009.

Telefilm Canada said Saturday that Tierney was an important figure in Canadian cinema.

"His films touched us all and will live on as a part of Canadian culture,'' the tweet said.

"Our deepest sympathies to the Tierney family."

With files from Claire Loewen and The Canadian Press