Michael Apted prolific director, producer, writer has died

Director, Michael Apted

Michael Apted, producer, writer and actor, and one of the most prolific film directors of his generation has died at age 79.

Born in 1941 in Aylesbury, England, Apted had an impressive body of work in television, film and documentaries.

Known for directing the Up documentary series (1964–2019) chronicling the lives of 14 British people in seven-year increments; the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Academy Award nominated Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) which won Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her portrayal of Kentucky-born singer Loretta Lynn.  

“Michael was the key to it all,” Spacek said. “I shudder to think what the film would have been without him.”

Michael Apted
Michael Apted, left, filming ’28 Up’ Photograph: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Apted was drawn to women’s stories, directing Agatha (1979), starring Vanessa Redgrave, Gorillas in the Mist (1988) nominated for five Oscars, including best actress for Sigourney Weaver, Nell (1994), starring Jodie Foster who became the third star of an Apted film to earn an Oscar nomination for best actress, and Enough (2002), starring Jennifer Lopez.

Michael Apted
Michael Apted: ‘I’m a magpie rather than a visionary. Little of what I do is about myself.’ 

Apted was also one of the longest running presidents of the DGA, serving from 2003 – 2009.

He received the Directors Guild of America’s Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award, established in 1984 to recognize extraordinary service to the DGA and to its membership, in 2013, and won a Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association in 1999.

DGA President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement, “Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of esteemed director, longtime DGA leader and my friend Michael Apted. His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our Guild. 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,” Thomas Schlamme, the president of DGA, said.

Publisher Barbara Roche had the good fortune to cross paths with Apted a number of times, particularly when he directed Chicago made Blink (1993), starring Madeleine Stowe and Aidan Quinn.

“Michael enjoyed working with seasoned actors as well as non-actors. He had a calming manor that put the entire set at ease. He was charming,” said Roche.

Recent work included episodes of the television series Ray Donovan (2013-16) and Bloodline (2017), the latter reuniting him with Spacek.

Apted was married three times, the first time to Jo Apted, the second time to screenwriter Dana Stevens.

Apted is survived by third wife Paige Simpson, whom he married in January 2014; sons Jim, John, daughter Lily Mellis, and four grandchildren. His son, sound editor Paul Apted, died from colon cancer in 2014.

Michael Apted
Michael Apted, ©20th Century Fox Film Corp

For a complete list of Michael Apted’s films and awards VISIT HERE

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