Michael Apted, who directed Sissy Spacek to an Oscar win in 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter and who oversaw the 7 Up documentary series, has died at the age of 79. Although his agent confirmed his passing to news outlets, no further information was made available.
Although never nominated for an Academy Award, Apted has directed a number of films that received various nominations at the Oscars. in addition to Spacek’s win for playing country singing legend Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, he also oversaw Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver to their best actress Oscar nominations in Gorillas in the Mist (1988) and Nell (1994).
Graduating Cambridge College in England in 1964, Apted found himself working for Grenada Television where he was tasked with finding the fourteen seven-year-old children who would be part of a documentary special entitled Seven Up! to be directed Paul Almond. initially conceived a s one-off project, it proved popular enough that Grenada comissioned a follow up on the children in 1970, 7 Plus Seven, promoting Apted to producer and director of the project. Although not every child would participate with every new installment, further films every seven years – 21 Up (1977), 28 Up (1984), 35 Up (1991), 42 Up (1998), 49 Up (2005), 56 Up (2012) and 63 Up (2019) – with Apted directing each one.
Apted’s feature film debut was the war saga The Triple Echo (1972), starring Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed. As a feature director, Apted tended to gravitate to character dramas such as Continental Divide (1981) featuring John Belushi in one of his last roles, and thrillers such as Class Action (1991) starring Gene Hackman, Gorky Park (1983)with William Hurt and Extreme Measures (1996) starring Hugh Grant. Although often a very singular filmmaker, he also wasn’t adverse to taking work on a franchise film, helming the third Chronicles of Narnia installment The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (2010) and the 1999 James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough.
A lifelong fan of rock music, Apted also used his camera lens to examine several rock icons. Stardust (1974) starred British singer-songwriter David Essex in the fictional story of the rise and fall of an international rock star during the 1960s and early 1970s. His 1995 doc Bring On The Night (1985), followed the making of Sting’s first solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles album the musician’s subsequent tour. A documentary following the Rolling Stones on their 2002 Forty Licks tour remains unreleased following a disagreement between Apted and Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
Apted also directed numerous hours of television including episodes of such series as the longrunning British soap Coronation Street. ITV Playhouse, Rome, Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex.