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Julia Roberts leads tributes after death of Notting Hill director Roger Michell

By PA News

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Julia Roberts has lead tributes to Roger Michell, the director of Notting Hill, following his death at the age of 65.

The Hollywood star played a famous actress falling in love with Hugh Grant’s struggling book store owner in the 1999 romantic-comedy, written by Richard Curtis.

Sharing a photo of Michell behind the camera on Instagram, she said: “I loved every minute we spent together. RIP Roger Michell,” before adding a broken heart emoji.

Jason Watkins, Samuel West and Eddie Marsan were also among those from the worlds of film and TV sharing memories of the director, who died on September 22.

Watkins, who starred in Michell’s 2014 television film The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, tweeted: “My beautiful friend #RogerMichell has gone. How can you leave us now? I’m devastated. My mate and collaborator- I owe him so much.

“A kind strong gentle genius and a magnificent friend. We are all lost without you. Too soon, too soon.”

Theatre actor and director West said: “Numbed by the news of Roger Michell’s untimely death. We worked together on three films (Persuasion, Notting Hill, Hyde Park on Hudson) and a play (Betrayal).

“He was a beautiful man and a consummate director: generous, authoritative, tasteful and so, so kind. I loved him, a lot.”

Writing on Twitter, Marsan said: “So sad to hear that Roger Michell has passed away. He gave me my first big break at the NT (National Theatre) in The Homecoming.

“He was such a kind, supportive and insightful director. Condolences to his family. RIP Roger.”

Composer George Fenton, known for his work on film and TV soundtracks, said: “Roger Michell the brilliant director, so smart and witty and a wonderful close friend died suddenly last night.

“Why? I can’t take it in. It’s almost surreal and such a shock. I’ll miss him so much.”

Actor Rainn Wilson called for “three tearful cheers to the great director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Venus, Blackbird).

“He was a shining gem of wisdom, talent, heart and brilliance. Such perceptive kindness. I learned so much working with him on #Blackbird ‘And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’”

Another tribute came from actor and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, who appeared in Notting Hill.

He said on Twitter: “Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Roger Michell. Terrific director & always such great company. He was as generous with his time and attention towards me as the main stars on Notting Hill. A kindness I’ve never forgotten. Thoughts with his son Harry & Roger’s family.”

A statement from Michell’s spokesperson to the PA news agency said: “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.”

The son of a British diplomat, Michell was born in South Africa and lived in Beirut, Damascus and Prague as a child.

He had an acclaimed career in the theatre, and was resident director at the Royal Shakespeare Company for six years.

Collecting an award for Notting Hill (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Collecting an award for Notting Hill (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Among his theatre credits are Nina Raine’s Consent, Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming and Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, with many of his productions playing at the National Theatre.

His production of Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall, starring Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor, won numerous awards and transferred to the West End.

Notting Hill, his biggest big screen hit, was a box office juggernaut and earned him a Bafta nomination.

Also among Michell’s film credits is Enduring Love, starring Daniel Craig; Morning Glory, with Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton; and Changing Lanes, starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson.

He also directed the big screen version of My Cousin Rachel, as well as Venus, starring Peter O’Toole and Jodie Whittaker.

With Rachel McAdams at the Morning Glory premiere (Ian West/PA)
With Rachel McAdams at the Morning Glory premiere (Ian West/PA)

Michell won a Bafta for his adaptation of Persuasion, as well as for his two-part TV drama The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies, written by Peter Morgan, telling the true-life story of a retired schoolteacher falsely accused of murder, and starring Watkins in the title role.

Mr Jefferies was one of Michell’s teachers in his own schooldays.

Earlier this month, Michell was in the US at the Telluride Film Festival, promoting his upcoming film The Duke starring Dame Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent and Matthew Goode.

Roger Michell (seond left) with Gareth Neame, Kevin Loader and Jason Watkins with their Baftas for The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies (Ian West/PA)
Roger Michell (seond left) with Gareth Neame, Kevin Loader and Jason Watkins with their Baftas for The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies (Ian West/PA)

He was also in production on a theatrical documentary about the Queen.

Michell was previously married to actress Kate Buffery, with whom he had two children.

He later married actress Anna Maxwell Martin and they also had two children before their separation.

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