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Director Anthony Minghella Dies at 54

18 March 2008 | IMDb News

Director Anthony Minghella, who won an Academy Award for directing the 1996 epic The English Patient, has died at age 54, his agent announced today. Variety reports that a spokesman for Mr. Minghella said he suffered a brain hemorrhage on Tuesday morning at Charing Cross Hospital in London, while in for a routine neck operation. A director who worked in theater and television (most notably for the series Inspector Morse and the lush, haunting The Storyteller series), Minghella made his feature film directorial debut with the ghost story/romance Truly, Madly, Deeply, which starred Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman. The film won Minghella a BAFTA award for his screenplay and effectively launched his film career. The little-seen indie romance Mr. Wonderful followed in 1993, but it was three years later that Minghella had his biggest success with The English Patient, an adaptation of the novel by Michael Ondaatje. Aggressively marketed by Miramax and arriving near the height of the independent film movement (though the film, with its epic scope, pushed the definition of indie filmmaking), the film became a surprise success, ultimately taking in $78 million in the US and winning a whopping nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture as well as Director for Minghella. Three of the film's stars, Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche, were Oscar-nominated, with Binoche taking home the Best Supporting Actress award in a shocking upset over Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall.

Minghella followed up that success in 1999 with the moody thriller The Talented Mr, Ripley, another book-to-film adaptation based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. Though the film starred high-profile actors Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, it was the then little-known Jude Law who walked away with the film with his role as a callow, rich playboy. The film earned Law a Best Supporting Actor nomination and Minghella another Adapted Screenplay nod. Minghella tried to replicate his successful literary adaptation formula with Cold Mountain, a high-profile version of the bestselling Civil War novel that, ironically, was filmed partly in Romania. Despite another big (and some said, overly aggressive) push by Miramax and a cast that included Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renee Zellweger, Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman, the movie was considered a major under-performer, though it did earn $95 million in the US alone and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Zellweger. Major nominations for Best Picture or Director, however, failed to materialize. Minghella worked on a smaller scale with the London-based drama Breaking and Entering, which reteamed him with both Law and Binoche, and had just completed filming on The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the pilot for a TV series based on the novel by Alexander McCall Smith. Beginning in 2000, Minghella also became a producer, with credits including The Quiet American, The Interpreter, and the recent Oscar winner Michael Clayton. In 2005, Minghella also staged an acclaimed version of the opera Madame Butterfly, which played at the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

Minghella is survived by his parents, his siblings in the entertainment industry Dominic Minghella and Edana Minghella, two other sisters, his wife, choreographer Carolyn Choa, and two children, Max Minghella and Hannah Minghella. --Mark Englehart, IMDb staff


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