Roger Michell, Director of ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Venus,’ Dies at 65

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Roger Michell, the director best known for films like “Notting Hill” and “Venus,” has died. He was 65.

Michell died on Wednesday, and his death was announced Thursday by his publicist to the UK Press Association (via The Guardian). No cause of death was given.

“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 September 22,” his publicist said.

Some of Michell’s other more recent films include “Blackbird,” “My Cousin Rachel” and “The Duke,” a drama starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren that premiered at the 2020 virtual Venice Film Festival and is due in U.S. theaters later this year. The British director also won two BAFTAs for his work in television.

Michell’s 1999 film “Notting Hill,” just his third feature, starred Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant and was a romantic comedy about a simple bookstore owner whose life is changed when he meets one of the world’s biggest movie stars. The film was a massive hit, making $363 million worldwide and netting three Golden Globe nominations.

During his career, Michell worked with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson on “Changing Lanes”; with Peter O’Toole in one of his late, great career roles on “Venus”; with Bill Murray on “Hyde Park on Hudson”; with Harrison Ford, Rachel McAdams and Diane Keaton in “Morning Glory”; and with Rachel Weisz in “My Cousin Rachel.”

Michell was also at work on a documentary about Queen Elizabeth that Embankment is handling. The film is currently in postproduction. His last narrative feature was “The Duke” starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, an upcoming Sony Pictures Classics release that has won rave reviews for its comedic, biographical portrait of a 60-year-old cab driver who stole a priceless portrait by the artist Goya.

“We are devastated and shocked by the news of the passing of our dear friend Roger Michell,” Sony Classics heads Michael Barker and Tom Bernard said in a statement. “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 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.”

Prior to entering the world of film, Michell started as an assistant director in the Royal Court and got the chance to work with John Osbourne and Samuel Beckett. He’d eventually make his way to the Royal Shakespeare Company for six years before joining the BBC as a TV director, earning his stripes with the TV film “Persuasion” and directing episodes of the series “The Buddha of Suburbia.”

Throughout the ’90s, Michell would return to theater and work with actors such as Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor on productions at the National Theater, including “The Coup,” “Under Milk Wood” and “The Homecoming.”

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