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Notting Hill director Roger Michell dies aged 65

·4 min read
Roger Michell
Michell's films included Morning Glory and Notting Hill

Notting Hill director Roger Michell has died at the age of 65, his publicist has announced.

In statement issued to the Press Association, he said it was with "great sadness" that the director's family confirmed he died on Wednesday.

Notting Hill, a 1999 romantic comedy which starred Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, became one of the highest-grossing British films of all time.

Michell was also known for movies including Venus and My Cousin Rachel.

In 2011, he directed Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams in Morning Glory, a film set behind the scenes of a fictional TV breakfast show.

His cause of death has not yet been announced.

'Like a second album'

Michell was born in South Africa to a British father, and his family later returned to the UK.

He studied at Cambridge University, then became assistant director at the Royal Court Theatre, working alongside the likes of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, before going on to become resident director at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His 1995 BBC film adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion won the Bafta for best single drama, and he soon caught the eye of producer Richard Curtis who asked him to direct Notting Hill.

The tale of an ordinary English book shop owner falling in love with a superstar American actress won the audience award for most popular film at the Baftas in 2000, and scored three Golden Globe nominations.

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in Notting Hill
Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant starred in Notting Hill

In an interview with Zavvi last year, Michell reflected on the legacy of his most famous film.

"Whilst making it I realised it had to be pretty successful or it would be a failure as the previous film, Four Weddings, had been such a huge success if we didn't do better than that it would be like a failed second album," he said.

"But I am surprised and delighted 20 years on people are still talking about it and celebrating it."

On its release, the film took $262m (£168m) at box offices worldwide - beating the $256m (£164m) total made by Four Weddings And A Funeral in 1994.

Michell went on to say that it would be difficult to revisit the same story. "I think that will be a tough one," he added.

"The world has changed so much. I would like to have another go at a rom-com but they are really hard to do. It's much harder to do comedies than serious films."

Director Roger Michell, actress Julia Roberts and actor Benjamin Bratt at the Notting Hill New York City Premiere in 1999
Michell alongside Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt at Notting Hill's New York premiere in 1999

Michell directed Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson in the 2002 thriller Changing Lanes, and also worked with Daniel Craig in the 2003 film The Mother.

His theatre credits include Nina Raine's Consent, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood.

He won another Bafta in 2015 for his two-part TV drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies - the true story of his old schoolteacher who was accused of murder but was found innocent.

The Telegraph's film critic Robbie Collin said: "Truly horrible news about Roger Michell. Yes, Notting Hill was the big one, but there was so much more. Loved Le Week-End especially, which is so sharp and compassionate on British middle age. And his still-to-be-released The Duke might be his very best."

IndieWire's David Ehrlic added: "Ugh, i had dinner with Roger Michell at Telluride less than three weeks ago. He was kind and gregarious and so honest about the ups & downs of his directing career (proud of Endless Love, excited about a doc he was making). Notting Hill is a masterpiece. RIP."

The director is survived by his four children, Harry, Rosie, Maggie and Sparrow - from his two marriages to the actresses Kate Buffery and Anna Maxwell Martin.

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