Roger Michell Dead at 65, Julia Roberts Mourns Notting Hill Director: 'Kind and Gentle'

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Roger Michell
Roger Michell

Ron Galella/getty Roger Michell and Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts is remembering the late director Roger Michell, who directed her and Hugh Grant in 1999's Notting Hill.

Michell died on Wednesday at the age of 65, his family said in a statement obtained by Variety. Roberts, who played a famous actress who falls in love with a bookshop owner in the film, shared her thoughts and condolences to the filmmaker's family, describing him in a statement obtained by PEOPLE as "such a kind and gentle man."

"He always had a sweet grin on his face and a perfect piece of direction to share," Roberts said. "I feel so fortunate to have had such a fantastic opportunity to work with him."

The actress, 53, also offered her condolences to Michell's children, whom she called "the true lights of his life."

Sony Pictures Classics also shared a statement honoring the director, saying, "We are devastated and shocked by the news of the passing of our dear friend Roger Michell. We were just with him a few weeks ago in Telluride with The Duke celebrating his exceptional accomplishment. Roger was a world-class filmmaker, one of the best and one of the loveliest and warmest people you will ever meet. We have been close since 1995 when we brought him and his first film Persuasion to Telluride. Our heart goes out to his family and friends who are experiencing the profound sadness we all share."

Roger Michell
Roger Michell

Franco Origlia/Getty Roger Michell

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Michell directed Roberts and Grant in the 1999 romantic comedy that became one of the highest-grossing British films of all time.

In 2010, he directed Morning Glory, starring Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton and Rachel McAdams, as well as Venus and My Cousin Rachel.

Michell was born on June 5, 1956, in South Africa, where his father was stationed as a British diplomat. He was raised in England where he went on to study at Cambridge University, and later became an assistant director at the Royal Court Theatre. There he worked alongside director Danny Boyle before becoming the resident director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In 1995, Michell directed the BBC TV film adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion, winning the BAFTA for best single drama. His work caught the attention of Richard Curtis (scribe of Love Actually), who asked him to direct Notting Hill, which Curtis wrote.

Roger Michell
Roger Michell

Universal/courtesy Everett Collection Roger Michell (center) with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant

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Following the success of Notting Hill, Michell went on to direct Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson in 2002's Changing Lanes.

Michell's last films were 2019's Blackbird with Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Kate Winslet and 2020's The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren.

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The filmmaker is survived by his four children Harry, Rosanna, Maggie and Nancy through his marriages to actresses Kate Buffery and Anna Maxwell Martin.