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Roger Michell Dies: ‘Notting Hill’ Director Was 65

·3 min read

Notting Hill director Roger Michell died yesterday at the age of 65, his publicist has announced. No cause of death was given.

The South African-born British theater, TV and film director was in Telluride with his latest film The Duke only three weeks ago.

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In addition to Notting Hill, the 1999 smash that starred Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, Michell’s credits include Venus and, most recently, The Duke starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren.

In a press statement, the director’s publicist announced the news with “great sadness” and said that Michell’s family had confirmed he died on Wednesday.

The son of a diplomat, Michell spent his early years living in a variety of countries before studying at Cambridge University, where he began directing and acting in plays.

After becoming an assistant director at the Royal Court Theatre, working with the likes of Danny Boyle and Simon Curtis, he became resident director at the Royal Shakespeare Company for six years.

His BBC film of Jane Austen’s Persuasion in 1995 was well received and established him as a screen director. Michell was sought by Richard Curtis to direct his romantic comedy Notting Hill, with Grant and Roberts, which was a breakout hit and remains one of the most successful UK films of all time.

The director helmed Hollywood pic Changing Lanes starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson in 2002, before deciding to only work in the UK due to personal reasons. He collaborated with Daniel Craig on several pics including The Mother and Enduring Love and came close to directing Bond pic Quantum Of Solace but left the project after creative differences.

He then directed Peter O’Toole in Venus, earning the actor his eighth and final Oscar nomination. Further credits included My Cousin Rachel and Blackbird.

Brit industry reacted with shock to the sudden news. Below are a selection of early tributes.

“We are utterly heartbroken to lose the kindest and best of men. Roger Michell was a loving and devoted family man, but was also responsible for bringing together other families, creative families, across the globe. Myself, and the cast of his movie Blackbird are eternally bound forever by the bond he forged between us all. We mourn him deeply today, and will cherish and uphold his memory and his pure, magical spirit for all time. A truly great and good man from whom we learnt so much.

“A brilliant director. A gorgeous man, who made the world a better place. Us lucky ones who knew him have been profoundly affected by his gentleness and his almighty lion heart.”
— Kate Winslet

“We are devastated and shocked by the news of the passing of our dear friend Roger Michell. We were just with him a few weeks ago in Telluride with The Duke celebrating his exceptional accomplishment. Roger was a world class filmmaker, one of the best AND and one of the loveliest and warmest people you will ever meet. We have been close since 1995 when we brought him and his first film PERSUASION to Telluride. Our heart goes out to his family and friends who are experiencing the profound sadness we all share.”
— Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and the Sony Pictures Classics team

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