Michael Apted, a man with a filmography that’s one of the most delightfully varied in the industry, has died. The British director who tackled a James Bond movie, a Chronicles of Narnia film and eight entries in the beloved Seven Up documentary series was 79, as confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter.
Apted’s journeyman bonafides were established right out the gate: His first gig after school was working on the original Seven Up!, the original documentary that—when the filmmakers decided to check in on its initially seven-year-old subjects seven years later in 7 Plus Seven—spawned an increasingly thoughtful and moving series about human nature and life itself. Apted took over directorial duties on 7 Plus Seven and continued returning back to his subjects every seven years for a new film, culminating in 2019’s 63 Up.
But Apted, while the driving force behind one of the most important documentary series in cinema, wasn’t a pure documentarian—not by a long shot. With 78 directing credits to his name, spanning TV and film, Apted proved he could work on anything. There were the blockbusters The World Is Not Enough (a Pierce Brosnan Bond romp) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the third and final entry in the perhaps overly-ambitious attempt to adapt C. S. Lewis), the TV shows like Masters of Sex and Rome, and the Oscar-wooing Coal Miner’s Daughter and Nell.
His vast and varied career was appreciated deeply during his lifetime: Apted had earned the Directors Guild of America’s Honorary Life Member Award and earned himself a Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association way back in 1999. He also won a BAFTA and, indicative of his jack-of-all-trades talent, a Grammy—the latter for helming a Sting movie.
“His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our guild,” said DGA president Thomas Schlamme in a statement. “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.”
Apted is survived by his wife Paige and his children James, John and Lily.