A publicist for director Roger Michell released a statement today that read “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,” as reported by Variety. No cause of death was given, and this is especially sad and surprising news given that Michell was present at the Telluride Film Festival just weeks ago to premiere his new film The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren.
Michell was born in Pretoria, South Africa on June 5th, 1956, and moved around frequently with his diplomat father throughout his childhood. He attended Cambridge University, which is where he first began writing and directing plays. An accomplished theater director, Michell next moved on to television, garnering widespread acclaim for his 1995 BBC Jane Austen film Persuasion, and made his debut feature in 1997, My Night with Reg.
His best-known film is likely the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Other projects included Changing Lanes, The Mother, Morning Glory, Hyde Park on Hudson, Enduring Love, and My Cousin Rachel. He directed Peter O’Toole to his final Oscar nomination for the 2006 film Venus, and debuted his ensemble drama Blackbird, starring Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet, at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.
He received many tributes on social media from fans and collaborators. The Sony Pictures Classics team issued a statement: “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.”