Coal Miner’s Daughter helmer Michael Apted dies at 79
ComingSoon.net is saddened to report (via The Hollywood Reporter) that acclaimed British director Michael Apted, the man behind the Up series of documentaries and a number of celebrated films, has passed away at the age of 79.
The exact cause of death and timing are currently unknown, but Roy Ashton from the Gersh Agency confirmed to THR that the director, who served three terms as the Directors’ Guild of America President from 2003-09, had died.
“His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our guild,” DGA president Thomas Schlamme said in a statement. “A fearless visionary as a director and unparalleled guild leader, Michael saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t, and we were all the beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication.”
Apted made his career debut in television with the monumental Up series, starting with Seven Up! in 1964 wherein he followed a group of 14 children and continued to catch up with them for a new documentary every 7 years, right up to his last one 63 Up in 2019. After following this with episodes of various series including Coronation Street and Haunted, Apted made his way to the big screen with the Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson-starring war drama The Triple Echo in 1972. He would go on to helm the musical drama Stardust, gangster thriller The Squeeze and drama thriller Agatha before breaking out with the Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter, which earned seven nominations at the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and winning for Best Actress for Sissy Spacek, and four Golden Globe nods, winning Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Actress for Spacek.
His career would continue both on the big and small screens in a variety of genres, including the romantic comedy Continental Divide, crime drama Class Action, Oscar-nominated Dian Fossey biopic Gorillas in the Mist, polarizing drama Nell, thrillers Gorky Park, Thunderheart and Enough, third Pierce Brosnan-led James Bond outing The World is Not Enough, third and final installment in the original Chronicles of Narnia film series, HBO historical drama Rome, Showtime period drama Masters of Sex and CBS legal drama Reckless.
Many fans and former collaborators have taken to social media to mourn Apted’s death, some of which include:
RIP Michael Apted — my first Hollywood experience ever (and first credit) was working in the editorial team for one of his features (BLINK) and he was (even to a lowly assistant) gracious and supportive. Between his narratives and docs (the UP series) he’s left an indelible mark
— Paul Davidson (@pauldavidson) January 8, 2021
RIP #MichaelApted. #Thunderheart was an extraordinary experience to produce on #PineRidge. You wanted to shoot most of the movie at magic hour! cc: @Rogerdeakins1 @JohnFusco12 @valkilmer Hoka Hey dear Michael!
— jane rosenthal (@janetribeca) January 8, 2021
Sad to learn of the passing of brilliant film director Michael Apted. In directing ‘Thunderheart’ he was the only director to ever truly capture one of my screenplays as envisioned. Excelsior, Mate. #Thunderheart #Apted https://t.co/WafkjlRvzr pic.twitter.com/Vly6S0VcOT
— John Fusco (@JohnFusco12) January 8, 2021
So very very sad to hear of the passing of Michael Apted. He was always so kind to me and I was such a great admirer of his work. We were on the DGA board together for a couple of years and I always looked forward to sitting next to him. RIP Michael. https://t.co/JN4s6NfS4m
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) January 8, 2021
Here’s #MichaelApted, one of my #DGA heroes, who nominated me to be president,with 3 presidents who followed: Thomas Schlamme, Taylor Hackford and I. We lost a great leader today, who started the Diversity Task Force, & fought the good fight to the end. thank you, Michael. pic.twitter.com/tlTdYfjwfu
— Paris Barclay (@Harparbar) January 8, 2021
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)