Roger Michell pictured at the Telluride film festival, September 2021. Photograph: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images
The director, who made films including Notting Hill, Enduring Love and My Cousin Rachel, has died
The Guardian-Catherine Shoard
Roger Michell, the much-admired director of films including Notting Hill, Venus and My Cousin Rachel, has died.
A statement from Michell’s publicist confirmed the news, saying: “It is with great sadness that the family of Roger Michell, director, writer and father of Harry, Rosie, Maggie and Sparrow, announce his death at the age of 65 on 22 September.”
A cause of death was not given.
Michell’s best known film was Notting Hill, the romcom 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 2002’s Changing Lanes with Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson, Venus, the last film of Peter O’Toole, and two films with Daniel Craig: The Mother, in 2002, and an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love the following year.
Michell was in negotiations to direct Craig in the 2006 James Bond film Quantum of Solace but jumped ship shortly before production, citing concerns over the script. He also pulled out of directing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin after suffering a heart attack in 1999, shortly after the release of Notting Hill (the closing scene of which shows Grant’s character reading the novel).
Born in South Africa and educated at Cambridge, Michell began his career in theatre, becoming an 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 at the Royal Shakespeare Company he joined the BBC as part of their new directors scheme, making his mark with a version of Kureshi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, as well as a landmark adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion and a televised take on his award-winning production of My Night with Reg.
Michell directed numerous key productions at the National Theatre, including Blue/Orange with Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nina Raine’s Consent. He also continued to work in television: the mini-series The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, scripted by Peter Morgan and starring Jason Watkins, won Michell a second Bafta in 2014.
He worked with Bill Murray on FDR drama Hyde Park on Hudson, and again with Kureishi on Le Week-End. His 2017 version of My Cousin Rachel, starring Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz, was released to considerable acclaim, while The Duke, based on a real-life art heist and starring Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, won raves when it premiered at the Venice film festival in 2020.
Michell was married to the actor-turned-lawyer Kate Buffery, with whom he had two children, Rosanna and Harry. After their divorce, he married the actor Anna Maxwell Martin, with whom he had two daughters, Maggie and Nancy. The pair separated last year.
A universally liked figure, Michell’s apparently sudden death was met with shock in the industry. Three weeks ago, he was discussing working on a new documentary while screening The Duke at the Telluride film festival in Colorado. A 2018 move into nonfiction, Nothing Like a Dame – in which Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright swap stories – had also met with a raft of five-star reviews.