Acclaimed and much-loved director Milos Forman has passed away at the age of 86. Though you may not know the name, you have almost undoubtedly been touched by his films. This Czech genius won his first Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — a film that continues to inspire audiences and film-makers even decades later. He had an amazing eye and appetite for satire, he was a man who struggled when courting the box office but soared when trusting his instincts. Hair, Ragtime, Amadeus, The Firemen’s Ball, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon, were all his creations and, while his box office sales went through peaks and troughs, his talent shaped film forever.

Forman lost his mother, Anna Suabov, at a very young age when she was captured by German forces and later killed at a death camp — and the man he believed to be his father suffered the same fate. But later in life, he was contacted by a woman who told him that his actual father was still alive — and Forman found that he had managed to survive the war and was living in Peru, according to the New York Times. Even from a young age, his revolutionary edge was apparent. “Raised by foster parents, Mr. Forman attended film school in Prague, and first made his mark with his work on a film and theater presentation at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition,” the New York Times reports. “An early feature, ‘The Loves of a Blonde,’ won attention on the international festival circuit in 1965. Another, ‘The Firemen’s Ball,’ two years later, rubbed Czech officials the wrong way with its spoof of the firefighting bureaucracy, though Mr. Forman was already turning his attention to opportunities abroad.”

At its heart, Forman’s work is a study and celebration of rebels, misfits, and rogues. He changed Hollywood’s definition of a hero and twisted our traditional views of protagonists. He created fascinating, sometimes difficult, character studies that captured a generation. He knew had to draw from his own experience and project it into something bigger. “To me it was not just literature but real life, the life I lived in Czechoslovakia from my birth in 1932 until 1968,” Forman said of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. “The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do.” And from then on, he tackled characters who refused to be told how to live, creating an astounding body of work that will live on.