Minghella: Oscar-Winning Director Dies

March 18, 2008–Anthony Minghella, the Oscar-winning director and writer of The English Patient, has died suddenly. He was 54.

A spokesman said he suffered a fatal hemorrhage at 5 a.m. GMT Tuesday at Charing Cross Hospital in London, where he had undergone an operation last week on a growth in his neck.

Minghella most recently directed the BBC/WeinsteinCo./HBO telepic No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, based on Alexander McCall Smiths novel set in Botswana, which is due to premiere March 23 on BBC1. He co-wrote and co-exec produced the adaptation with Richard Curtis.

His last movie was Breaking and Entering in 2006, also for the Weinstein Co. His other movie credits include Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr Ripley, Mr Wonderful and Truly Madly Deeply.

He recently stepped down as chair of the British Film Institute after serving 4 years in the role. He was a partner with Sydney Pollack in Mirage Enterprises, and served as producer on Mirage pics, including The Interpreter, Catch a Fire and The Reader.

He is survived by his wife Carolyn Choa, a producer, and his two children–Hannah, who was named last week as president of production at Sony Pictures Animations, and Max, an actor who is currently filming Agora with Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar.

His longtime collaborator and friend Harvey Weinstein said in a statement, I am shocked and heartbroken that we have lost Anthony. He was my mentor, my partner and, most of all, my brother. The grace, joy and tenderness he brought to his films were symbolic of his life and the many people he touched. There are many personal and professional moments we have shared together and I will treasure them for the rest of my life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beautiful family at this difficult moment.

Jude Law, who starred in The Talented Mr Ripley, Cold Mountain and Breaking and Entering, said, I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Anthonys untimely death. I worked with him on three films, more than with any other director, but had come to value him more as a friend than as a colleague. He was a brilliantly talented writer and director who wrote dialogue that was a joy to speak and then put in onto the screen in a way that always looked effortless. He made work feel like fun. He was a sweet, warm, bright and funny man who was interested in everything from football to opera, films, music, literature, people and most of all his family, whom he adored and to whom I send my thoughts and love. I shall miss him hugely.

Minghella was born Jan. 6, 1954 on the Isle of Wight, where his Italian parents ran a successful ice-cream business. He became a lecturer at Hull University, and started carving a reputation as a writer for the stage, radio and TV. He penned episodes of detective drama Inspector Morse and high school series Grange Hill, and created the Jim Henson miniseries The Storyteller: Greek Myths.

Truly, Madly, Deeply, his directorial debut from his own script, won him a BAFTA for best original screenplay. He won the best director Oscar for The English Patient in 1997, which also earned him an adapted screenplay nomination. He got another Oscar nomination in 2000 for the screenplay of The Talented Mr Ripley.

He made his only acting appearance as a TV interviewer in the final section of Joe Wrights Atonement.

His next movie was supposed to be The Ninth Life of Louis Drax for the Weinstein Co.

He also directed his first opera, Puccinis Madam Butterfly, at Londons English National Opera in 2005, later transferring to New Yorks Metropolitan Opera.

Minghellas status as a public figure in the U.K. was underlined by personal tributes from prime minister Gordon Brown and former PM Tony Blair, whom Minghella directed together in a 2005 election broadcast.