The British director Michael Apted has died at the age of 79.
The film-maker and documentarian was known for films such as Gorillas in the Mist and Coal Miner’s Daughter, as well as his long-running series of Up documentaries.
His death has been confirmed by his agency to the Hollywood Reporter. No further details are yet known.
Apted’s career started in the 1960s on the small screen, and in 1964, he assisted on the the show Seven Up! as part of the current affairs show World in Action. He helped the director Paul Almond interview 14 seven-year-old children, and continued to independently revisit them every seven years over the course of their lives. The most recent, 63 Up, was released in 2019 and the director referred to it as “the most important thing I have ever done”. The series as a whole won the Peabody award in 2012.
“The series was an attempt to do a long view of English society,” Apted said in an interview last year. “The class system needed a kick up the backside.”
In promotion for the most recent installment, Apted expressed a desire to continue in another seven years’ time, saying he would continue as long as he “can breathe and speak”.
In the 1970s, Apted made his big-screen debut, directing the second world war drama The Triple Echo, starring Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson. But he saw see his first major film success in 1980 with Coal Miner’s Daughter, a Loretta Lynn biopic starring Sissy Spacek. It was nominated for seven Oscars, winning one for Spacek as best actress.
Apted went on to direct Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, a film that also picked up five Oscar nominations; Nell, which scored an Oscar nomination for Jodie Foster; the Kate Winslet drama Enigma; the Jennifer Lopez thriller Enough and, most recently, the action film Unlocked starring Noomi Rapace.
“What I like about women at the center of films is that I find that a woman character brings a lot of emotion to a story, whatever a story is,” he said in a 2017 interview. “Whether it’s a woman with gorillas or a country music singer, a woman’s emotional life – at least on the surface – is more dramatic than a man’s.”
He also directed the James Bond adventure The World is Not Enough and the fantasy sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Apted has been remembered by his peers on Twitter, including Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids.
“So very very sad to hear of the passing of Michael Apted,” Feig wrote. “He was always so kind to me and I was such a great admirer of his work.”
Gale Anne Hurd, producer of Aliens and The Terminator, tweeted: “Another legendary filmmaker gone … a brilliant documentarian and a wonderful colleague. Do yourself a favor and check out his terrific filmography.”
Apted is survived by his wife, Paige Simpson, sons Jim and John, and daughter Lily Mellis.