British director Michael Apted died at the age of 79.
The filmmaker and documentary filmmaker was known for films like Gorillas in the Fog and Coal Miner’s Daughter, as well as for his long-running series of Up documentaries.
His death has been confirmed by his agency the Hollywood Reporter. Further details are not yet known.
Apted’s career began on the small screen in the 1960s, and in 1964 he assisted on the show Seven Up! as part of the current affairs show World in Action. He helped director Paul Almond interview 14 seven-year-old children and continued to visit them independently every seven years throughout their lives. The youngest, 63 Up, was released in 2019 and is the director referenced as well as “the most important thing I’ve ever done”. The entire series won the Peabody Award in 2012.
“The series was an attempt to take a long look at English society,” Apted said in an interview last year. “The class system needed a kick on the back.”
In the advertisement for the final installment, Apted expressed the desire to go on for another seven years and say he would go on for as long as he can “breathe and speak”.
In the 1970s, Apted made its cinema debut, directing the World War II drama The Triple Echo with Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson. But he saw his first big hit in 1980 with Coal Miner’s Daughter, a Loretta Lynn biopic starring Sissy Spacek. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won one for Spacek for Best Actress.
Apted directed Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, a film that also received five Academy Award nominations. Nell, who received an Oscar nomination for Jodie Foster; the Kate Winslet drama Enigma; the Jennifer Lopez thriller Enough and most recently the action film Unlocked with Noomi Rapace.
“What I like about women at the center of movies is that I find that a female character adds a lot of emotion to a story, no matter what the story is,” he said in an interview in 2017. “Whether it’s a woman with gorillas or a country singer, a woman’s emotional life is – at least on the surface – 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 Journey of the Dawn Treader.
Apted has been remembered by his colleagues on Twitter, including Paul Feig, Director of Bridesmaids.
“So very, very sad to hear of Michael Apted’s death,” said Feig wrote. “He was always so nice to me and I was a great admirer of his work.”
Gale Anne Hurd, producer of Aliens and The Terminator, tweeted: “Another legendary filmmaker is gone… a brilliant documentary filmmaker and a wonderful colleague. Do yourself a favor and check out his great filmography. “
Apted is survived by his wife Paige Simpson, sons Jim and John, and daughter Lily Mellis.