Roger Michell, the much admired director of films including Notting Hill, Venus and My Cousin Rachel, has passed away.
A statement from Michell’s publicist confirmed the news, saying: âIt is with great sadness that the family of Roger Michell, director, screenwriter and father of Harry, Rosie, Maggie and Sparrow, announce his passing at the age of 65 years old on September 22. “
A cause of death was not given.
Michell’s best-known film was Notting Hill, the romantic comedy written by Richard Curtis and starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in 1999. The film was a huge commercial success and was nominated for three Golden Globes.
Other films included Changing Lanes in 2002 with Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson, Venus, the last film by Peter O’Toole, and two films with Daniel Craig: The Mother, in 2002, and an adaptation of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan the next year.
Michell was in talks to direct Craig in the 2006 James Bond film Quantum of Solace, but left ship shortly before production, citing concerns about the script. He also retired from directing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin after suffering a heart attack in 1999, shortly after leaving Notting Hill (the final scene of which shows Grant’s character reading the novel).
Born in South Africa and educated in Cambridge, Michell began his career in theater, becoming assistant director at the Royal Court, where he worked with John Osborne and Samuel Beckett. Contemporaries included Antonia Bird, Simon Curtis, Danny Boyle, and frequent collaborator Hanif Kureishi.
After a six-year stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he joined the BBC as part of their new directors program, making his mark with a version of The Buddha of Suburbia by Kureshi, as well as a landmark adaptation of Persuasion by Jane Austen and a TV take on her award-winning production of My Night with Reg.
Michell has directed many key productions at the National Theater, including Blue / Orange with Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nina Raine’s Consent. He also continued to work in television: the miniseries The Lost Honor of Christopher Jefferies, written by Peter Morgan and starring Jason Watkins, earned Michell a second Bafta in 2014.
He worked with Bill Murray on the FDR drama Hyde Park on Hudson, and again with Kureishi on The Weekend. Her 2017 version of My Cousin Rachel, starring Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz, was widely acclaimed, while The Duke, based on an actual art theft and starring Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, won accolades during its premiere at the Venice film. party in 2020.
Michell was married to actress-turned-lawyer Kate Buffery, with whom he had two children, Rosanna and Harry. After their divorce, he married actress Anna Maxwell Martin, with whom he had two daughters, Maggie and Nancy. The couple separated last year.
A universally beloved figure, Michell’s seemingly sudden death came as a shock to the industry. Three weeks ago, he was discussing work on a new documentary during the screening of The Duke at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. A shift to non-fiction in 2018, Nothing Like a Dame – in which Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright swap stories – had also met a slew of five-star reviews.