Michael Apted, Director of ‘Seven Up’ Films, Dies at 79

The British documentarian also directed films like "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "The World Is Not Enough."
President of the Directors Guild of America Michael Apted arrives at the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Michael Apted

Michael Apted, the beloved British documentary filmmaker behind the decades-spanning “Seven Up” film series as well as a body of acclaimed fiction films, has died. The filmmaker was 79. The news of his passing was confirmed by Roy Ashton at the Gersh Agency, though a cause of death has not been revealed.

Apted’s last entry in his documentary film series, which interviews follows a group of British ciitizens from childhood into old age, was 2019’s “63 Up.” He was also known for directing films including “The World Is Not Enough,” “Nell,” “Gorillas in the Mist,” “Thunderheart,” “Enigma,” “Enough,” and his feature directorial debut “The Triple Echo,” starring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed. His “Seven Up” series began in 1964, with a total of nine entries over the decades. Apted also made music documentaries focused on the likes of The Rolling Stones and David Bowie.

“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,” said Directors Guild of America President Thomas Schlamme. Apted previously served three terms as DGA president from 2003 to 2009. “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.”

Past DGA heads also paid tribute to Apted in written statements. Said Steven Soderbergh, “I spent countless hours literally two feet from Michael and loved every minute of it. Apart from his own remarkable body of work, what he gave to the DGA can’t be measured; he put his entire BEING into the Guild, and inspired us all to follow his example. We were lucky to have him and to know him.”

Said Taylor Hackford, “Michael Apted was the definition of ‘mensch’ — like the wonderful director he was, you could always count on him to deliver a clear and well thought out point-of-view, usually leavened with a dollop of dry wit. He was my trusted colleague at the DGA for over 30 years, and I was privileged to follow him as President of our great organization — his were huge shoes to fill. I will miss him dearly.”

Also said Paris Barclay, “Michael had a deep and profound impact on the Guild, and on me. His shrewdness in negotiations, how he energized the Guild’s efforts towards inclusion, and how he led the Guild with rapier wit and elegance inspired me and so many others to participate in leadership. He was my teacher, my mentor, my advisor, and my friend. We owe him so much — losing him leaves a hole in the Guild’s heart.”

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