Michael Apted, Director of ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ and Other Legendary Films, Dead at 79

by Joe Rutland

Director Michael Apted, who guided actress Sissy Spacek in her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” has died at 79 years old.

Roy Ashton at the Gersh Agency confirmed Apted’s death to “The Hollywood Reporter.” A spokesperson for the Director’s Guild of America said he died Thursday night in Los Angeles. No cause of death was immediately available.

His career spanned the gamut from British television, where he cut his teeth, to the big screen. Other films that Apted directed include “Gorillas In The Mist” and “Neil.”

Spacek won an Oscar for her work in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Sigourney Weaver and Jodie Foster, respectively, received Oscar nominations for “Gorillas” and “Neil” but didn’t win.

“What I like about women at the center of films is that I find that a woman character brings a lot of emotion to a story, whatever a story is,” the legendary director said in a 2017 interview.

Michael Apted Found Happiness In ‘Up’ Series of Films

Michael Apted also made documentaries. His best-known work in that genre is the “Up” series of films, which followed 14 British citizens in different working classes for 56 years.

“The series was an attempt to do a long view of English society,” Apted said in an interview last year. “The class system needed a kick up the backside.”

In promotion for the most recent installment, Apted expressed a desire to continue in another seven years’ time.

He was DGA president from 2003-09. In a statement, current DGA president Thomas Schlamme said, “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. 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.”

The Oscars’ official Twitter account offered their condolences upon hearing of Apted’s death.

Apted Influenced By Seeing Ingmar Bergman Film

Apted saw Ingmar Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries” as a teenager and called the experience “a total epiphany.”

“Here was something, a movie, that I thought had the gravitas and seriousness of a book … and from then on I knew what I wanted to do,” he said.

Michael Apted began his show business career at Granada Television in London.

Survivors include his third wife, Paige, whom he married in January 2014. He is survived by three children, James, John, and Lily. Another son, sound editor Paul Apted, died in 2014 at age 47 of colon cancer.

Did returning to “Seven Up” every seven years make him reflect on his own life? “Not as much as maybe it should,” he said in his RadioTimes interview.

“Sometimes I do muse on where I was at 28 or 35 or whatever. But more often I reflect on how it has colored my whole career. I never tire of talking about it, and I bond with people over it.”