The Tragic Death Of Notting Hill Director Roger Michell

The affluent and fashionable London area of Notting Hill perhaps wouldn't be the tourist destination it is today if it wasn't for Roger Michell. And sadly, the acclaimed British director — who helmed the hugely successful rom-com "Notting Hill" — has died at age 65.

Michell's publicist confirmed the news to the Associated Press. "It is with great sadness that the family of Roger Michell, director, writer and father of Harry, Rosie, Maggie and Sparrow, announce his death at the age of 65 on September 22nd." His cause of death has not been announced. Despite the 1999 film starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant being his most well-known, Michell directed a slew of other popular British and Hollywood films as well as TV and theater productions. In The Guardian's tribute article, they called the South African-born director "a quiet genius," and said his death was a "huge blow for British cinema."

Michell directed the 2002 thriller "Changing Lanes" with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson and the adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's romantic drama "My Cousin Rachel" in 2017. He was also behind the 2010 breakfast television inspired rom-com "Morning Glory," which starred Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. Michell was even supposed to direct Daniel Craig as James Bond for the "Quantum of Solace," but The New York Times says he backed out due to an unfinished script and tight deadlines. Michell also had strong reservations about making another film — but thank goodness he took the risk. That film was "Notting Hill."

Roger Michell was worried 'Notting Hill' would be like a 'failed second album'

"Notting Hill" may have be one of Britain's highest-grossing films — but Roger Michell was terrified it would be a flop. Michell's first film, a 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel "Persuasion," caught the eye of screenwriter Richard Curtis, who scored commercial success with "Four Weddings and a Funeral" the year before, per BBC. After Michell won a BAFTA for "Persuasion," Curtis asked whether he would want to direct his next screenplay ... about a little London bookseller who falls in love with a movie star. Michell said yes but was concerned it'd be a "failed second album" compared with Curtis' previous film.

"Whilst making it I realised it had to be pretty successful or it would be a failure, as the previous film, 'Four Weddings,' had been such a huge success if we didn't do better than that it would be like a failed second album," Michell told Zavvi. While it took some time for Michell and Curtis to settle on their male lead, they ended up choosing Hugh Grant following "Four Weddings." Julia Roberts, on the other hand, was their "only choice" to play the glamorous Anna Scott. Roberts posted a tribute to Michell on Instagram and wrote: "I loved every minute we spent together. RIP Roger Michell." Per the New York Times, "Notting Hill" ended up grossing "$262 million worldwide" — $6 million more than "Four Weddings" had. 

"I am surprised and delighted 20 years on people are still talking about it and celebrating it," Michell told Zavvi.