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Roger Michell, acclaimed director of ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘The Duke,’ dies at 65

Roger Michell at Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy 2020.
Roger Michell at Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy 2020.
(Joel C Ryan / Invision/Associated Press)

Roger Michell, the British stage, television and film director whose movies include the indelibly popular rom-com “Notting Hill,” has died at 65.

Michell’s family said in a statement that he died Wednesday, but the place and cause of death were not disclosed.

“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,” according to the statement released by Michell’s publicist.

Born in South Africa, where his father was posted as a British diplomat, Michell began his directing career with British theaters including the Royal Court, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He made acclaimed television series in the 1990s, including adaptations of Hanif Kureishi’s novel “The Buddha of Suburbia” and Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.”

On the big screen, his biggest commercial hit was “Notting Hill,” the Richard Curtis-penned comedy about an awkward romance between a movie star played by Julia Roberts and a London bookshop owner, played by Hugh Grant.

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After its release in 1999, it was for a time the highest-grossing British film in history. Michell followed it with the Hollywood thriller “Changing Lanes,” starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson.

He was courted to direct a James Bond film — the one that became “Quantum of Solace” — but turned it down because, he later said, the movie “had everything, but no script.”

He largely made films in Britain, often drawing superb performances from actors. They include 2003‘s “The Mother,” with Anne Reid and Daniel Craig; the next year’s “Enduring Love,” based on an Ian McEwan novel and again starring Craig; and “Venus,” which gained Peter O’Toole an Academy Award nomination in 2007.

Later films included “Hyde Park on Hudson,” a 2012 historical drama starring Bill Murray as President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the Daphne du Maurier adaptation of “My Cousin Rachel,” starring Rachel Weisz, released in 2017; and “The Duke,” a real-life art heist story starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren that premiered at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

At the time of his death he was working on a documentary about Queen Elizabeth II.

Michell was married twice: to actor Kate Buffery, and after their divorce to actor Anna Maxwell Martin, from whom he was separated. He is survived by his four children, two from each relationship.


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