1954 - 2008

This site remembers Anthony Minghella CBE, a man whom it was impossible not to like; a towering talent of the British film industry, always gracious, modest and loving.

Remembrances are invited from those who knew him. Sadly, we cannot publish all comments.

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cath le couteur said...

hullo. I met Anthony only a few times over the last few years and had such indelible impressions of him. My good friend Lisa Gunning worked in music video and commercials as an editor, and was then invited by Minghella in 2001 to cut a short film he'd made called 'Play'. She then went on to edit his feature 'Breaking and Entering' and 'The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency'.

I remember so well going to an early 'friends' screening of 'Breaking and Entering' and sitting around in the bar of the Everyman with a dozen others. Anthony patiently asked everyone (uncles, aunts, friends, the bar staff, the lot..) what they thought of the film and how he could make it better. He was unbelievably humble. This all from a man with such an astonishing filmography as a writer, director and producer. And every time I have met Anthony he has been like this; intellectually curious, funny, wonderfully open and humble about his work.

Which is not to say he wasn't also incredibly concise and masterful in the way he spoke about his filmmaking practice. When we invited him to the Shooting People Xmas party in 2005 to speak about his craft, many remember how eloquent he was. The interview is here:
The way he discusses his quest for truth and honesty in his work, is perhaps a real reflection of the kindof person he was.

I last saw Anthony in New York in October last year and was reminded again of how someone who is so celebrated, could also be so low-key. He was directing the opera 'Madame Butterfly' at the Met and was also one of the exec producers on feature 'Michael Clayton'. Lisa was invited to a private screening of the film and being in NY, I tagged along. The screening was full of A-list actors.. Tilda Swinton, George Clooney.. the grande dames of NY.. Joan Rivers, Jackie Collins.. you get the picture.. At the end of the screening there was a big dinner put on for everyone present. So did Minghella go? No.. It was his anniversary with his wife Carolyn and they said they wanted to explore NYC and do something small and sweet together instead.

I'm not across the huge amount of work I know he also put into the BFI. But I remember him being surprised by how much he had to fight for the importance of film in the UK. In the brief times I spent with him, I saw and heard how much he believed in film and how much he believed in and worked with independent voices. But more than that too.. he reflected a real humanism - the kind of which moved me to tears - whether from the staging of his opera, from the music relationship he developed with Gabriel Yared in The Talented Mr Ripley, from the performances he drew out in The English Patient… He was a master of so many things and yet at the same time, he seemed so curious, self-effacing and open to all.

Cath Le Couteur
Shooting People

gabriel yared said...

i feel so lucky, so much blessed that one day our roads have crossed ,Anthony my friend,my soul mate who made me blossom and create the best of my music .you are alive for ever in my heart .despite my sorrow,i'll keep going on and remembering you through my work . I can see you smiling at me,always...there are no words,in english or french to say what I mean ,I will say it in music throughout my life . gabriel yared

gabriel yared said...

my thoughtsand my love go to you,Carolyn,Max,Hannah,Tim,Karen,Natalie,to you all my friends

Jörg Tittel said...

If there ever was a man whom I could truly call an example, both as an artist and as a human being, it would have to be Anthony Minghella.

We were originally introduced through Gabriel Yared, who wrote such extraordinary music for a director whose films were themselves composed like the greatest symphonies.

I first met him years ago at the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles, where, being a young budding filmmaker with a real chip on his shoulder, I ranted to him about my frustrations and aspirations. And Anthony just listened, with that disconcertingly calming, wise smile and finally just said, "Not everyone has to be poor in order for you to be rich." Now, frankly, I had no idea how to react to that. I was furious inside: "Me, rich? I AM poor. How dare this man accuse me of such a thing."

And then his words sunk in: Anthony taught me humility, patience and inner beauty. And everytime I hit a low in my life or career, I would hear his words and get back on the right track.

While I don't think I will ever be able to do Anthony justice, I hope that, in that beautiful place he has traveled to - but much much too soon - he will smile down at me and the countless people he blessed with inspiration, and know that, without him, we would not have achieved a thing.

Both as artists and as human beings.

My love goes out to Anthony's beloved family and the beautiful people at Mirage.


Walter the Younger said...

I've been surprised to find just how much Ant's always danced through my mind - never thought much of it, but now realise that it was more than is usual... and with it came the thoughts of all of you I've met & known via him.

I remember when we were finishing up Ripley, and we shared a moment... and found myself thanking him for making this film. Not many I might say that to.
And years later in the Chapel, another moment and another word of thanks came out, for 'saving my life', for lack of a better way to put it. Elaborating that his decision to keep my father on The English Patient after he'd offered up a 'resignation', in order to care for his family, when I fell gravely ill. That decision of Ant's - that kindness - made a difference to our family's world that I cannot begin to express.

So again, for so much more, I thank you Anthony

And to everyone, family especially, all my thoughts and all my love.
- Walter the Younger

rani khanna said...

Before meeting Anthony, I knew I would like him, because I had heard so many good things said about him by Gabriel Yared, who admired him and respected him deeply. And each time we met, I could see more and more why everyone who crossed his path loved him and admired him. He was truly inspiring and giving. I made a documentary about Gabriel and followed him in his collaboration with Anthony for the score of Cold Mountain. I am forever grateful to Anthony for helping me acquire the copyrights for clips from 3 of his feature films, as I would not have been able to complete this film without his generosity and support. It was a great privilege for me to meet his family, and to see how important his family was to him, to witness the love and affection he expressed for them. The world has lost a great man and a great artist, who will be greatly missed.
My heart felt thoughts are with his family and all those working with him at Mirage.
Sending you all much love and light in this terrible moment.

Rani Khanna

John said...

To me, Anthony was a gentle voice over the phone on the other side of the Atlantic, waylaid with me on route to talking to Tom. Tom would tell me, "you'll get to know him, you'll like him." Then, one day as Anthony was mixing Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency, Tom asked me to bring him a package: "say hello, he's very nice." Having heard from so many people, in off-hand comments, in attitudes, in the way anyone talked about him with a smile, I did not doubt it. And yet I was nervous about meeting someone whom I admired so much, and about whom I knew so many good things must be true.

It was late on a Friday afternoon as I walked down the halls to the mixing stage whose cracked door leaked a temple's silence. I slid inside, into the dark room with its many-buttoned altars of technology and a screen whereon an African plain spread out, and a bouncing Jeep kicked up dust, before me. I could barely make out human figures in the room, so I traced the projector's light back from the screen. As if by a miracle, all its rays converged on one man. He hunched over a console desk, one hand melting down onto his knee, another elbow propping his chin and cheek in the cup of his hand. Eyes intent on that imagined world before him, Anthony was a perfect tableau of casual composure, unmitigated attention, and skillfully channeled passion: a man at peace in his work, an artist. As much as I wanted to say hello, how could I? How could I wait for that perfect image to break or disturb that man communing with his work as purely as his audience would months later. So, I quietly left the package and dissolved back into my workaday reality, retaining only that joyful, inspiring picture of an artist at home in his milieu as a token.

Of course, this tragedy has insured I would never know more of Anthony than that. And I suppose, after reading the beautiful fountains of bittersweet remembrance his passing has unleashed, one could be sad at the missed opportunity of knowing such a great man, a human and artistic light. Of course, the grief of you who truly knew him, his family and friends, is incomparable and unspeakable, so any sadness I have could not even register enough to give meaningful succor. But even if it did, I hope there is a higher, richer note that breaks the cacophony of grief and loss, and that's the joy of ever having been touched by Anthony's life to begin with. In his influence and his inspiration, he gave form to this world, and even in this loss, the world retains the gift of his presence on its stage. My heart goes out to everyone in their sorrow, but I hope it will not totally eclipse the joy that can be taken in the memory and triumph of life that was Anthony Minghella.

John Lopez

Phil Bray said...

Anthony was a friend, a brother, a mentor, a director and so much more. He was a man bathed in light, an illumination he shared with all of us. When we worked with him on his films he kept us all there close to him, touching us occasionally or asking us “Are you happy?” his on set mantra. The Film Set was so much a part of him that you could feel his heartbeat pulsing in the 10k’s or the energy in the air. You could warm yourself in this rhythm and feel free to share his creativity and love. My deepest condolences to the Minghella family for your immense loss. May the heartbeats of his life and work long continue to beat in all of our hearts.

William Horberg said...

I wrote this song for Anthony on the plane back from New York today. I'm hoping that our mutual friend Guy Barker (the wonderful trumpet player from Ripley) will play it at Ant's memorial. It is based on a blues by Melba Liston that was popularized in song by Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan. Anthony and I had so many fun-filled days and nights listening to endless jazz cd's to pick the songs out for Ripley. I know if Guy plays it loud enough he'll hear it up there.

Minghella's Blues
(to the tune of "Melba's Blues")

I sat down and wrote out this melody
for a friend
A man whose deep and soulful spirit should
never end
A cat who touched people's hearts wherever
he went
Because his gifts as an artist were
Heaven sent
And I called it
Minghella's Blues

He was a simple storyteller from the
Isle of Wight
And the stories that he told us were
out of sight
He had one basic rule which was:
Tell The Truth
And he looked at the whole world
through his never-ending youth
And he called it
Minghella's Blues

Minghella told me something special many
years ago
Something that really stuck with me and I
can't let go
He said he sought out what we have in common as
human beings
Not the things that separate us but the
love in between
And I miss him
Minghella's Blues

For all the people that have known him
We lost a brilliant piece of light
And now we find ourselves struggling though the
lonesome night
But the many gifts that he gave us will not
They will only make us stronger and in
voices clear
We'll be singing
Minghella's Blues
We'll keep singing
Minghella's Blues

abukhurbaysha said...

Unlike most on this thread I have nothing to do with film, I met Ant through Tim. I recall our first proper discussion was after the cast & crew screening of Ripley in Saul Zantz's facility in Berkley, I think the score had just been completed, as I exited the screening room after the movie had finished some crew were huddled around a TV watching an Oprah interview of Ant with Jude and Cate. I rushed past and out, my head filled with the complexities of the movie, to the balcony for a cigarette. Ant almost immediately followed and despite reticence at providing my insignificant opinion, he massaged, as was his wont, one from me, interested in my critique, agreeing and responding to the points I made.
I was fortunate to have met him a number of occasions since usually on set, from Play to Cold Mountain and No 1 yet was always met with the same smile, interest in what I was doing and warm intellectual hospitality.
My thoughts love and sympathy go out to his family, Tim and all at Mirage, but I guess ultimately to anyone who ever knew him, as this thread and other comments prove the void he has left for so many will never fill.

Simon D'Oyly

dwmiller2000 said...

I only ever met Anthony the once. Yet he made a huge impression. The event was the 2006 British Federation of Film Societies Film Society of the Year Awards Ceremony. Anthony had accepted our invitation to present our awards and what a superbly gracious guest he was. His speech to the audience is an absolute highlight and the full text is available at http://www.bffs.org.uk/pdfs/NewsReel%20Apr%2006.pdf
We had hoped to work with Anthony again but are eternally grateful for the contribution he made not only to the BFFS but also to the world of cinema and music.
He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family, colleagues and all those who mourn his untimely passing.
David W Miller
Chairman British Federation of Film Societies

Beth Swofford said...

I was Judy Scott-Fox's assistant at William Morris when I first read a play by Anthony Minghella. It was Cigarettes and Chocolate. Then I read The Storyteller, so I was completely charmed by him even before he walked into Judy's office and introduced himself. I was just out of college and knew nothing. He was wise and kind and big-hearted and instantly started to tease me about how I mispronounced my own name -- to his ear at least. Ever since, I was "Bath" to him, not "Beth."

On my first trip to London, he invited me over to his lovely house to experience the double treat of the arrival of the rest of the family and, joy of joys, the world-famous Minghella ice cream straight from the Isle of Wight. As I attempted to grow up through the years, seeing him was like a marker for humanity. He was always deeply serious and soulful, delightfully playful and warm. It is hard to imagine anyone whose generous spirit could be so beautifully matched with real genius as an artist.

Yesterday, I was thinking about It's a Wonderful Life. If anyone could have been a real-life George Bailey, it was Anthony. His life touched everyone's so profoundly through his beautiful work and, more importantly, through his warmth and generosity. The world is a much better place because he was born.

Anthony had the gift of making everyone he met feel a part of his extended family. We all feel his loss deeply, although I am trying to balance my own heartbreak with the tremendous gratitude I feel for having been a tiny part of his wonderful life. I feel so lucky to have known him.

Elizabeth Adlam said...

ANTHONY MINGHELLA - The Director’s Cut. Carnabt Street 10/07/97:

Living over “the shop”in his childhood gave him the stamina to cope with the noisy, carnival craziness of being a film director

It may not be the Swinging Sixties, but you could have fooled me. Outside the brightly flower-boxed window of Paul Weiland Film Company, Newburgh Street is on the quiet side, but just round the corner, Carnaby Street is noisily alive once more as late 1990s London leads the way into the millenium. He arrives from wherever he has been - the shortish, roundish, leather-jacketed figure that is Anthony Minghella - mega-Oscar-winning director extroardinaire of The English Patient. An immediate sense of subdued excitement, sounds of voices discussing, laughter, movement; this is a man whose presence lights up those around him.

A firm, warm handshake. ‘I hope this is the last interview I do for a very long time.’ But his eyes twinkle - he is smiling broadly. Still on the right side of 45, delightedly married to Carolyn and proud father of 11-year-old Max and 18-year-old Hannah, he has spent precious little of the past two years at home in London, on account of his total involvement with The English Patient.‘Since returning to this country, I'm trying to wrap up a lot of things I agreed to do, that's all. I really don't want to have a public life.’ In the past week, he's taken masterclasses in Galway, given prizes at the National Theatre, recorded a "Down Your Way" on the Isle of Wight which involved visiting a tortoise-breeding house - all great ways of "reintegrating" himself to being in England. He admits that this is a beguiling way to live, but not what he is supposed to be doing with his life. "So now I must try and settle down...get a life.'

Leaning back in his chair, arms behind his close-cropped head, he recalls a peculiarly public upbringing. Born in Ryde on the Isle of Wight of Italian parents, he was the second of five Minghella siblings - three girls and the youngest - a brother Dominic - born when Anthony was already a teenager. ‘Because we lived over "the shop", as we called it - the cafe in the High Street my parents used to run - we shared a communal kitchen. Our family kitchen was also the restaurant kitchen. This meant that every single person or event, every tragedy, every crisis, every failure, every piece of mischief, every regret was played out in public.’ He sighs deeply, remembering the way the family lived, without any formal structure. ‘My parents worked every day of the year and the cafe was open from when I woke up in the morning to when I went to sleep at night.’

No wonder, then, that the quiet years of study and writing between 18 and 30 - alone and peaceful in a library or his own room - were so very attractive. ‘They were a complete antidote to the noise of my childhood.’

He smiles on a thought that strikes him. 'Funnily enough, though, when I started directing my first film Truly, Madly, Deeply in 1990, I was sitting in the corner of a room with Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. As we were rehearsing, there was a crew walking by lifting camera tracks and lights to set up a shot and I thought “I have been here before. I recognise this world of the intimate and private playing out in public. So making movies is just the same..." '

If the realisation came as a surprise, it enabled Minghella to get the balance of his life right. 'I found for myself a rhythm which can happily oscillate between the atmosphere of quiet study and research - which is the writer's life - and the noisy, carnival craziness of being a film director, where you are basically collaborating with two to three hundred people every day.'

How had his passion for the cinema come about in the first place? As a boy, the only culture readily available on the Isle of Wight was cinema culture. He laughs, thinking about it. 'There were three cinemas within a spit of my parents' cafe, including the Commodore - a rather grand place immediately behind us. I became very friendly with the projectionist, Vernon Cook, and he used to let me into the projection room and he gave me cinema posters.' He makes the point that for most children in the early sixties cinema was much more of a presence than television and radio.

Eventually Anthony's father let him have a room in a cottage behind the cafe which he decorated entirely with movie posters. 'I suddenly felt as if I had two escape routes from my fairly insular existence - music, which I was learning to make and to involve myself in, and cinema, which was a kind of dream in the dark.' From the beginning, he loved the odd intimacy that cinema gives - 'when you sit in the dark and enter into a separate world.'

He pulls himself back into the present for a moment and purrs contentedly: 'Now I have fetched up in film direction, I can't think of any other job I could do which stretches all my particular interests so completely.’

The name Minghella conjures up visions of Mediterranean sunshine, warmth and passion and rightly so. There is no English blood or culture in the family background whatsoever. Although both his parents were born in the United Kingdom, their parents came coincidentally from neighboring villages in southern Italy. ‘My father’s story is an odd one.’ Edward Minghella already had a British passport when he came to England at 19, because his itinerant parents had been walking around various parts of Europe and he happened to be born in Scotland. From there, he went to Paris and back to Italy, returning to this country at the beginning of the Second World War, only to be called up. He was an interpreter in the British Army.

Today’s high-profile ice-cream business on the Isle of Wight grew out of inauspicious beginnings.As with many young Italian boys from southern villages where there was no money, Edward was brought over here to work for board and lodging and scratchy wages - in his case his employer was a successful company in Portsmouth where he learned the ice-cream trade and was soon seen to be a good and honest worker. Striking up a friendship with the boss’s son, he heard about three Italian sisters and a family cafe across the Solent and went over to meet them. Within a year, Edward and one of the sisters, Gloria, were married. ‘Because he knew about icecream, not cafes, he bought a van and started driving it round the Island in 1950, and that was how it all began.’ Anthony leans back in his chair again: ‘ I’ve often thought that he dragged himself out of a complex and deprived family situation, travelled a long way, then quite suddenly stopped, put down roots and never thought to move again.’

His eyes light up, as they do when he thinks of the special people in his life. ‘They are wonderful people, my parents. They created a life for themselves with no resources; they began with absolutely nothing.’ His mother was taken out of school in her very early teens - a great pity. ‘She is an extremely intelligent woman who, in other times and with other opportunities, would very probably have had a substantial career in law.’

He is grateful for the environment they created which enabled the five children to study and each of them is today a highly talented professional. He sees in this some sadness, as well as pride, for his father who has, in effect, educated all his children away from what he started. ‘But life is full of ironies, and my eldest sister seems to be getting more and more involved with the business , which would obviously not be a disappointment to my father.”

But there was another side to the coin: ‘We also learned the terrible pathology of the work ethic in the sense that we all worked all the time we were able to.’ This relentlessly demanding upbringing has actually given him perhaps the most appropriate gift of all - the stamina needed to survive as as film maker. ‘That’s what is the most difficult, finding the sheer stamina required to keep going as I’ve just been doing recently - working 20 hours a day for 120 days. Thank God I’m equipped to do it. Mind you, at the end, you just want to lie down and be left alone for ever!’

In all the frenetic bustle of the cafe, there was one person who alway had the time to talk to the young Anthony - his maternal grandmother. Scarred by her husband’s departure to Dublin, she spent a lifetime expecting him to come back to her. ‘She was an extraordinary woman, full of life and fun, but with this terrible shadow haunting her.’ He describes her with great affection, painting a graphic picture of a tiny woman, stunted by childhood rickets, a lover of the sea, a true eccentric with the lexicon of a navvy gleaned from running a cafe in the Glasgow Gorbals. ‘I would trudge along Ryde seafront beside her each morning while she gave me her view of the world and how it works,’ he remembers fondly. ‘It was a quasi-religious, spiritual education for me, which really had nothing to do with religion and nothing to do with the spirit...an odd, florid, sad and humorous outlook on things. But her influence on me was immeasurable.’

His secondary schooling, spent initially at St John’s College - a Catholic boarding school in Southsea - was fraught with problems. He describes himself wryly as an unexceptional but rather difficult adolescent, glum and ‘certainly more angry than I have ever been as an adult. An admission:’ I’m not sure I could like the boy I was if he were in the room now ‘I was very exercised by the idea that the system didn’t reflect the realities that we were living in, and this did not go down terribly well at the school, which was extremely disciplinarian.’ Anthony and St John’s finally went their separate ways, by mutual consent, and he went back to the Island to finish his secondary education smoothly, but without academic dedication, at Sandown - then a Grammar school about to turn comprehensive - where he spent many happy hours in the art room which was the place for painters and musicians to get together.

During those patchy schooldays, Minghella the pianist came to the fore as music became the great salvation. ‘I started to play in bands, and to play by myself -singing and writing what were probably quite awful songs.’ He feels strongly that, for one who is not raised in a highly cultural environment, music is the one door that anybody can prise open. ‘Music became absolutely essential to my life; this was when I started to write - I wrote lyrics - and I started to think about how to capture something that was inside me rather than look around me.’

The thought of a university education held little appeal after his lacklustre school experience and he applied to Portsmouth Art School to do a foundation year without much thought. Then a wonderful thing happened quite by mistake. ‘I was expected to go through the motions of applying for university, so I quite literally let the handbook fall open where it would and applied to a batch of places under HKKL covering such varied courses as American Studies, politics, English. I noticed the entry under Hull mentioned a brand new drama department building, so I applied for this course too.’ He vividly remembers going to Hull, being approached by people who seemed genuinely interested in”his” things: “Oh good, you play the piano.You write songs. You’re interested in art - come and look at our design shop. We have a recording studio.” ‘The very minute I got there, I knew that was IT; I went from being a rather disenchanted boy to wanting desperately to be allowed to go to this place.”

Did he mind the idea of leaving home? Minghella emphasizes that this was a big bonus. ‘As a kid, I spent the whole time thinking how great it would be if I lived in a city or somewhere I could be anonymous and free, and not always defined by this cafe, this High Street, and this tiny island. Of course, with hindsight, I realise what a wonderfully rich and expansive childhood it was but, at the time, all I knew was that I had to get away as quickly as I possibly could - and I did.’ He admits that one of the great attractions of going to Hull was that it was a long, long way away.

So a marvellous blossoming period began - a time of total transformation culminating in First Class Honours and the offer, readily grabbed at, to stay on at the university as a lecturer. ‘I had access to the theatre, to music, to writing, and I went from being somebody who would never write an essay, would never read a book, to being someone who was never out of the library, who went to every lecture, every tutorial, and became the worst kind of slave to academia.’

It was during his last year as a student that Anthony wote and adapted a short story into an evening of what was ‘grandiosely called a musical’. A call from Z-Cars creator and writer Alan Plater expressed admiration for his talents as a writer. ‘ “No, I’m a student at the University,” I said. “Maybe that’s what you do, but you are a writer,” insisted Plater “and I should like to commission you to write a play”. ...So began a great friendship and an invaluable dramatic learning experience.

Marriage to psychology student Yvonne, the birth of baby Hannah, and the breakdown of the marriage - with mother and child leaving to live in London - brought Anthony’s Hull idyll, and his lectureship, to an abrupt end. He leans back and gives deep consideration to his next words.’I am picking my way through this because I have only ever spoken to one other person in the media about this before and then the report made it all sound catastrophic, which it wasn’t at all - not least because I have a wonderful daughter from that relationship and I am on extremely good terms with her mother.’

He thinks carefully again. ‘Let me see if I can say this properly...this was a friendship that formalised into marriage, but really couldn’t sustain itself as such, and it broke up at a difficult time because there was a young child involved. It would be a lie to characterise the failure of any relationship as being easy, but I can truly say that the impact of it was only positive and a blessing. The marriage wasn’t, for either of us, right, yet we were able, and are able, to sustain a very good partnership over the past 18 years with our daughter.’

‘It also had a galvanising effect because the first thing I did was to resign my job as I didn’t want to be living in Yorkshire while they were living in London.’ So he handed in his notice, went to live in London and became a writer. ‘Had the relationship sustained itself, the chances are I’d still be in Hull being a teacher.’

London also brought a happy reunion with Carolyn Choa - first met when she was an 18-year-old English and drama student at Hull, and who was now, in 1981, living in Hampstead. ‘Over the course of the next year, I saw a lot of Carolyn which was for me a very good thing, and the start of the relationship which is my greatest achievement.’ Today, Carolyn, who comes from Hong Kong, is a talented professional in her own right: translator, choreographer, film producer, as well as great companion and selflessly supportive wife to Anthony and loving mother to their son Max. ‘She is the best thing that ever happened to me,’he declares.

He finds it hard to assess himself as a person ...a pause while he weighs up his thoughts. ‘I’d say that I’m a mildish person, in that I’m not conquering demons in myself.’ He remembers being taken aback when Hannah and Max were amused to see him being quite “beady” during a tele-documentary on the making of The English Patient, and realised that he could be tetchy if his work is not quite right. ‘I’m certainly not a shouter though, nor am I hostage to my temper, and, although I have got an enormous will, it seems to me to be very poor management if the way to articulate that will is to trample over other people.’

He seems to have the definite knack of getting the best out of people nonetheless. The reason is that Minghella believes that making a film is essentially rather like being the conductor of an orchestra. ‘No conductor imagines that he is as good a cellist as the cello player, or as good a fiddler as the violinist. So my job is not to be a great actor or cinematographer or editor, but to find ways of encouraging each of those artists to do their best. Each of them knows more about what they do than I do.’

‘I do like to work with the same people or group of people however.’ He can’t say strongly enough that Juliet Stevenson has been the most important “collaborator” in his working life and cannot wait to resume working with her. He mentions that Juliette Binoche seemed to have a similar spirit when working on The English Patient and that he would dearly love to find something to direct with both of them. ‘I love everybody called Juliet now,’ he grins broadly.

In fact, he’s extremely bound by habit.’I have never come accross anybody who lives such a disorganised life, yet who is still so bound by repetitions.’ He likes to do things in the same way. ‘If I go on a vacation and I find a beach that I like or a cafe that I like, then I always want to go to that beach or that cafe.’ The first thing he does when he visits his parents on the Isle of Wight is to walk from the house to Quarr Abbey because that seems to characterise the Island for him. ‘I am always trying to find out what lassoos an experience most quickly and most pungently. I did the same thing with a “desert walk” when we were making The English Patient.

For a few moments he considers the question of religion. He would not describe himself as actually religious, but is extremely conscious of the fact that he was raised a Catholic, appreciating that Catholicism acknowledges the capacity to hurt and to heal, to trespass and to reconcile. ‘The way I interpret the world is with a Catholic dictionary and I am very happy about that,’ adding that he doesn’t have any time for star signs and horoscopes.

Perhaps a little self-deprecatingly, however, there is one thing he admits to feeling superstitious about. ‘I have always been a huge fan of Portsmouth Football Club and for years, I convinced myself that my own success or failure was inextricably bound up with theirs! their struggle to get out of the Second Division has been mine too.’ Nothing seems to have changed that much: only last night - at one o’clock in the morning to be precise - he was calling Pompey to find out how they were doing; when he was in the Sahara, he had all his football mail delivered to him by courier. ‘Another passion I devloped in my adult life was for the music of Bach, but I have to say it is only as interesting to me as Pompey’s fortunes.’

Only two films in history have won more Academy awards than The English Patient so - having reached such a pinnacle of achievement - where does Anthony Minghella go from here? In no way does he want to dilute the importance of the awards, nor the enormously empowering result the film has had for him. ‘ The impact it has had on my life is extraordinary insofar as it has opened every door I have ever hoped would be opened to me. By the same token, having every door opened is not necessarily very useful because one of the great galvanising energies in life is having to barge against doors which remain belligerently closed.’ He likes to remind himself that he has only made three films to date, and hopes to make 33; that he has an enormous amount to learn, and that he must find other ways of defining success and failure than just by money and awards. ‘I hope that I can use the advantages of having made a good film to help me be better, rather than to imagine that I have peaked,’ he says firmly.

So, what is the next film project? Is it to be Charles Frazier’s American Odyssey Cold Mountain, for which Minghella is incorrectly reported to have paid $1.5million (actually United Artists paid this for the book)? Or novelist Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley, or Fadeout for producer David Puttnam? It’s possible he may choose to do an adaptation of his own award-winning BBC radio play Cigarettes and Chocolate, which is about Lent and a woman who gives up talking - a choice which would have the added attraction of not having to leave England. ‘I will make all these,’ he says firmly - ‘it’s just a case of when.’ He is pushing along the various drafts and trying to see which of these projects matures most quickly. ‘I think each producer would like me to do his first but I shall wait until one of the drafts says “I’m ready to go now.” I am certainly not going to jump into any of them until I am convinced that I have got the material to the place that it is ready to go.’

In the meantime, he is happy about the injection of lottery money, and the new tax breaks for the British Film industry, happy with the new Government...’I’m glad they’re in.’

This all seems a far cry from the pilot episode of Inspector Morse which Minghella was asked to write -a shot in the dark which in those early days seemed ‘more likely to prove a folly than an institution’.

We have well overrun our time but Anthony Minghella is still sitting, relaxed and easy. Outside a strident tooting on the corner of Carnaby Street - his taxi is impatient to carry the director to the next somewhere. Suddenly the door bursts open .. a dark-haired smiling man erupts into the room... it is Paul Weiland himself:: ‘Can I say on record that I love this guy?’

first interview. EA with love

Michael Ford said...

As we have been in touch in recent years, I wanted to express my heartfelt sympathy to you at this desperately sad time. I am sure you must all be in a state of deep shock but I imagine the experience of working for such a great and humble man as Anthony will live on in your hearts for a very long time.

His work had a profound effect on me and I feel privileged to have met him.

My sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers.

Michael Ford/BBC Religious Programmes

Ellin Stein said...

I didn’t know Anthony as well as some who have posted here, but even so was fortunate enough to experience his kindness and generosity of spirit. We first met to discuss the possibility of my working with him and he suggested Giraffe on Hampstead High Street as a venue (the builders were still in at Fleet Road). I remember thinking how not many Hollywood-based directors of a similar caliber would be inclined to go somewhere where they might be seen by – gasp! – regular people and how refreshingly unpretentious this was. At the meeting Anthony was most interested in the aspect of my background that was the least commercial, least germane to the job at hand, most left-field, and most, from my point of view, creatively exciting, and that was what he wanted to know more about. Almost immediately I felt like I was talking not to some major filmmaker making a decision about whether to hire me but to a friend on the same wavelength.

We stayed in touch and I can’t say how much his responsiveness and encouragement meant to me. He was full of curiosity about life and people, keen to encourage the green shoots of creativity wherever and in whomever he found them, and, most of all, the opposite of up himself - rare enough qualities in anyone, let alone an Oscar-winning writer and director. Deepest sympathies to Carolyn, Max, and Hannah, and to his extended Mirage and creative families. We will miss seeing what that fertile artistic spirit would have come up with in years to come but are grateful for the wonderful body of work he has left us. A great loss, on so many levels.

Ellin Stein

Colin Vaines said...

The last two times I saw Ant really sum up the man for me:

In October, I’d just moved to LA. My first night in Santa Monica, I decided to go out and get something to eat. Dithering for a moment outside the Robata Bar, I turned onto Santa Monica Blvd – to see Ant and Carolyn walking towards me.

Now, truly, this was an amazing coincidence – I had absolutely no idea they were in LA, and the fact that they just happened to be walking back to the Huntley Hotel at that precise moment - that, frankly, they were even in Santa Monica at all, which was not a part of town Anthony ever frequented – was kind of mind-boggling.

But what I cherish most about the encounter, outside of the sheer serendipity of meeting two of my favorite people in the world when I was feeling somewhat vulnerable about my 5,000 mile move from home, was the way Ant reacted – he just took my arm as he walked by, continuing his conversation with Carolyn, as though this was the most unbelieveably normal thing for him.

Which I actually believe was the case.

Beloved all over the world, Ant could bump into literally thousands of people – probably hundreds of thousands - touched by having encountered him, or his work.

If he’d been a mountain climber, he’d certainly have come across someone who knew and loved him. They’d have been astounded to see him – but Ant, nothing if not amazingly practical, would just have given the person a hand with their grappling hooks, tied their ropes together, and helped them ascend to the top, casually throwing into the conversation some amazing insight into his fellow climber’s latest piece of work/relationship/whatever issue was most important to him or her at the time.

The last time I saw Anthony was in Malibu at Christmas, when he was staying at some insanely over-the-top mansion his friends at CAA had found for him. But who cared about the Jackie Collins’ décor when you could snuggle up in the warmth of Ant and family? I missed Hannah, but Carolyn was there, and Max and his girlfriend, and their dog – and bundled up in that nest of love for a couple of hours, why would you want to even contemplate being anywhere else in the world? We talked about the latest on the projects we’d worked on together, about the projects we were planning at our respective companies going forward, about the latest in our personal lives. He showed me the unbelievably hilarious film he’d made with so much love and affection for Harvey’s wedding, and the evening disappeared in an ocean of laughter, wisdom and love.

I know we all wish we could be back in that wonderful place - but every time we remember those very special moments shared with Ant, at work or at play, his beautiful spirit lives on in all of us.

I send huge love and sympathy to Carolyn, Max and Hannah, and to my gorgeous extended Mirage family of Sydney, Franklin, Karen, Tim, Caroline, Natalie - and everyone else lucky enough, like me, to have had Anthony as part of our lives.

Colin Vaines

Ralph Millero said...

I have thought about what to say for almost a week now. I have realized that nothing I can say, could ever do justice to an amazing man like Anthony Minghella. I think of Anthony everyday. For the last months he and I were together everyday. I had the honor of serving him while in Los Angeles. I miss him. He was much more than a boss, he was a friend. I have so many stories from the last 8 years, so many memories, they flood my mind, but at this moment my heart still breaks for him and his family. Anthony treated me like family. Anthony taught me so much. We went through so much together. I will miss him everyday. Everyday. I'm sad.

Walter Murch said...

The world is suddenly upside down, and not just because I happen to be in Buenos Aires..

What an unfathomable loss for all of us – Anthony's family, friends, and colleagues - as well as the worlds of opera, cinema, theater, television, music and civilized culture in general.

A light has been abruptly switched off, some part of the universe unplugged. Anthony was so powerfully warm and human, intelligent, supremely creative, humble, caring and funny, that all of us who met or worked with him immediately welcomed him into ourselves, to an extent that we are just beginning to comprehend now that his physical presence is no longer with us.

And yet he leaves behind him the comet streak of his work, and its brilliant swath against the darkness provides some consolation for us who knew and loved him, as it will provide inspiration for generations to come. I feel honored and privileged to have walked with Anthony for a few miles of his life's journey. Farewell, dear friend.

Walter "Waltiero" Murch

Brian M. Levine said...

Anthony was a man who exuded warmth, kindness, creativity, wit, generosity of spirit, intelligence and enthusiasm. Because Anthony had very openly professed his love of Glenn Gould's Bach, we felt he was someone we had to invite to be on the jury for the Glenn Gould Prize. It was our great privilege to have Anthony in Toronto with Carolyn last month. Anthony was a vital part of the jury - his input was thoughtful, insightful, well-measured and yet always tendered respectfully and in a modest and unassuming way. Anthony's spirit and humane impulses are reflected in the choice of the Prize Laureate selected by the jury - Dr. José Antonio Abreu, the Venezuelan statesman whose national system of children's and youth orchestras has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young persons at risk.

What I'll remember most about Anthony is how much I liked him - even on short acquaintance, he was the kind of person who could not help being drawn to, hoping for a long and rich friendship with. He was an engaging conversationalist who genuinely listened. You could tell immediately that he had a special capacity to share and give joy, to care about others, as his beautiful body of artistic works so eloquently attests.

All of us at the Glenn Gould Foundation feel terribly saddened by Anthony's loss, and our hearts go out to Carolyn, Anthony's children, friends and colleagues.

Brian M. Levine
Managing Director, The Glenn Gould Foundation, Toronto Canada

Michael Ford said...


‘I travel too much. I work too long hours and far too many days of the week, so to see the absolute antithesis of that life is enormously attractive to me.’

Anthony was referring to Quarr Abbey close to the family home on the Isle of Wight. The Benedictine monastery held a place deep in his affections. I was interviewing him for a BBC Radio 4 'Sunday' series to find Britain’s most popular spiritual place and was intrigued to discover that it wasn’t so much the drama of the monastic liturgy that appealed to his sensibilities but the form and function of the abbey’s architecture, music and monastic structure.

‘I feel drawn to rules and I feel drawn to routine because my life is so empty of rules and routine,’ he told me. ‘One of the requirements of visiting my parents, who still live in Ryde, is that we walk up to the abbey, sit and think, then go back for breakfast and lunch. It’s become part of my journey to the island. I have to go and sit in Quarr, speak to some of the monks and refresh myself.’

As I think I may have reminded him at the time, Anthony bore more than a passing resemblance to the great American monk-writer Thomas Merton. (He, too, died suddenly in his early fifties).

Anthony had agreed to meet me at Abbey Road Studios in North London where he was putting the finishing touches to Cold Mountain. Before the start of another gruelling day, he had cleared an hour from his diary to record his thoughts. Eloquent and engaging as ever, he did not convey the impression of a film-maker under pressure. Perhaps this was part of the Ripley director’s disguise. After I had switched off the minidisc machine, he didn’t hurry off as if he had something more important to do. He just relaxed on the black leather sofa and chatted as if we were old friends. It gave me an opportunity to tell Anthony how his work had opened up new horizons for me. I told him I hoped to write about him one day, although I don't think he felt the time was right for a biography. He was, after all, a man of humility.

His last words to me were: ‘Go and visit Quarr Abbey.’ The following year I made the trip and was not disappointed. Anthony may not have been a monk himself but rarely have I met someone more spiritual – in the broadest and deepest sense of that word.

Michael Ford
Writer & Broadcaster

Johnny Breedt said...

only recently did you come into my life and yet it felt like i knew you years. when i saw the news, i realised how well known and well liked you were.....Lords,politicians,statesmen and who's who in hollywood all spoke about there fond memories and of your contributions made during your stay with us on this planet.never have i worked with someone like you before, or even met someone like you. we had a discussion once about how easy it was for you to show affection by simply putting your hand on my shoulder. i never experienced this kind of bonding, not even from my close family. you showed me how to do this, you taught me how deal with people and how to respect, love and enjoy what we do. i had really hoped that we would get to work together some day again, just so that i could be near you again.everyone in South Africa is sad by your passing. what a privilege to have known you and your family.fond memories will remain with us forever.the last time Yvette and I saw you in London was fantastic. we were so happy to see No.1 Ladies at you office. much respect and love from your friend Johnny Breedt (westrand)

Stevie Lee said...

I have known Anthony all my adult life. When I left university I worked for his agent Judy (in a very junior capacity - mainly doing press cuttings and filing) and then I went on to work with Paul Weiland and David Barron, both good friends of Anthony's, as their Head of Development. Even then, when I wasn't quite so junior, my main job was arranging meetings and taking notes. So though I knew Anthony, it could easily have been that he didn't know me. And yet he always greeted me like a friend, always remembered where we'd originally met, never forgot my name or my son's name .. Anthony knew so very many people, was loved by so very many people, but always took time for even the junior people around him, was always gentle and kind and made everyone feel important and special. Dom has written in the papers about how there was something almost religious about being around Anthony and that's what I felt. He had such a light and such an infectious love of life. He was a joy.
I last heard from Anthony when he and Caroline and Tim sent me flowers last month after an operation. I never got to thank him. Those flowers really made my day, not least because when I opened the card I saw his name and his face came into my head and it made me smile.
My heart goes out to Anthony's family, all of whom he talked about so much and with such glowing love and pride. And to everyone at Mirage who were like a big extended family.

catherine enny said...

Sweet Anthony with the eyes of an eagle.

We were in Kingston Jamaica last week when I got the call that "Anthony died last night"...it sucked, it hurt, I cried like I haven't for a long time. I was mad at God. Why does he let the good ones die? He's fucked.

I'm still kinda mad at him, but anger is no good...so I will forgive and let go...in a while.

I had more contact with Anthony via Tim Bricknell over the years than he himself because of the business, but when I first met Anthony, Carolyn and Max in San Francisco at a small private show of Michael Franti's...it was a family affair and I was happy to be able to bring them joy that night because they were lovely, joyful people with heart. That's how I felt and still feel about all at Mirage and especially Tim. Then came the fun Franti & Spearhead show at London's Royal Albert Hall...it's now a blur, but the ladies of Mirage, Tim and I boogied, laughed and broke loose...I think Anthony was there...can't remember now...our shows are a blur....too many people and too much fun...we are a social bunch you know.

Managing Michael - a special artist - brings special people. I fell in love with Anthony before I met him and after seeing The English Patient, the beautiful PSA for the 'Drop The Debt' campaign he cut with Michael was gorgeous and moving and then the relationship with Tim, Albert Berger, Max, Carolyn...I fell in love with the family. Special people like Anthony bring together like minds and lives...that's the beauty of meeting people and the awesomeness of waking up every day...you never know who you are going to meet or what is going to happen.

I saw Anthony last year at The Chapel. Can't remember why we visited...me and my husband whom he was sizing up like a father...I think it's those eagle eyes...he observes people - the artist that he was.


So pain sucks! It's takes a long time between the busy moments to get over it. Sadness, anger, reflection and confusion. Life is all this and Anthony brought that to his films and his life and his heart...he gave and seemed to love life.

Thank you for this blogspot...it's def a release...a way to share the pain, the loss, to feel connected to others that feel the same. I am not alone in these awful, sad feelings which is a crumb of what his loved ones feel and makes my pain a grain of sadness. So - I wish you strength and will to overcome that black hole of young death.

A great heart, a great artist, a great leader and a great man is lost. We love you Anthony and the Mirage and Minghella Family.

Priscilla Carluccio said...

I loved the enthusiasm of Anthony - the intelligence and kindness. he was an enormous support when we had our little Film Festival and any time spent in his company left a kind of glow. We will all miss him, that Italian from the Isle of Wight!

Priscilla and Antonio Carluccio

Barbara Jane Mackie said...

I had the enormous privilege of knowing Anthony in two very different phases of my life. The first time was at Hull University where Anthony was our hugely popular and maverick Drama Tutor. We Drama students had no doubt in our young minds that were sitting in the presence of some kind of gentle genius as we listened to Anthony talk passionately about Brecht and Beckett, his brown eyes twinkling brightly. Even in his early twenties, Anthony was writing plays at a prolific rate: we students were gasping, nay, reeling at his talents!

On leaving Hull, I lost touch with Anthony, but a few years later, when I was organising a Benefit Concert for a fellow Hull student, John McCarthy (who was then being held hostage in Beirut) and I got back in touch with Anthony. Anthony wrote to me, kind and supportive as ever, letting me know how he was hugely impressed with our Campaign, urging me to keep going - encouraging words yet again!

When I arrived on the beautiful Isle of Wight, I remembered that my former Tutor had hailed from these shores, so got back in touch with Anthony. I informed him that I was (as he had been) a former BBC Drama Script Editor and that I was now screenwriting. Anthony wrote back: he was thriled that I was writing and was delighted to hear that I was living on his beloved island - 'I envy you', he wrote, busy with the Opera he was directing in New York.

Now, it was clear to me that my former Tutor was one of the world's busiest men and I didn't really expect him to read the screenplay that I had just finished, but read he did. He also emailed back encouraging words and offered me the back up of his company, Mirage Enterprises, suggesting I came in and meet with his Script Supervisors, as he was away filming. Anthony's assistants, Caroline and Natalie gave me brilliantly detailed notes on my work and I was treated with kindness and decency. The ethos that Anthony had set up within his own company was about treating talent with respect and lending a supportive and listening ear - often a rarity in the pressurised world of film.

That was so typical of Anthony - really caring about a former student and what was happening in their career and taking positive steps to help. Anthony came down to the island last year to screen his film 'Breaking and Entering' for one of his mother's charities. We hadn't seen each other for years but his warmth was immediate as he batted away the local newshounds to take fifteen minutes with me. In that short space of time, I felt totally understood and supported by him as a fellow writer and he gave me highly pertinent notes on my screenplay. He added that things were tough in the business right now but was, as ever, warmly encouraging. That essential ingredient of what made the man so unique was there in bucket loads: his inclusiveness (one became 'familigla' in a moment of seconds!), his support and sensitivity and his ability to raise people up around him, so that they instantly became better human beings. It was absolutely extraodinary to witness. It was as if people all around him were suddenly bathed in some warm 'light'.

Anthony has not just inspired me as a writer, but also as a human being. Anthony's extraordinary ability to shower love on all around him made him unique, not just in the film industry in which he dazzled so brightly, but also in the wider world at large.

Sleep well, sweet Anthony. Your amazing body of work is an inspiration to us all. It will make us work harder, do our 'best' for you. A 'beautiful man', as one film director so aptly put it, you had a truly beautiful soul that shone out brightly. You will never be forgotten, Anthony, and I can see you now, up there, wise, mischievous, Puck-like, twinkling down at us as you playfully sprinkle around handfuls of your magic dust.

Barbara Jane Mackie

Eileen Kastner-Delago said...

"Countless people in the dark,
a leader guides onto sunny paths"
(Christian Morgenstern)

Anthony, you lead many of us onto these paths with your incredible warmth, generosity and wisdom.
With this, your gentle guidance we were able to find our rythm and confidence to follow our dreams.
I feel so privileged and lucky to have known you, even though it was brief...meeting you all these years back in 2000 and later having had the chance to work with you on the wonderful project "PLAY".
I myself will never forget the day I came out to your beautiful home in the country with Tim and how you encouraged and motivated me there with that gentle smile of yours.
I will always recall especially how you showed an exeptional and rare generosity and wisdom in leadership by making me and my team feel as if each and everyone of us was an absolutely indispensable part on this project.
In the short while I got to know you a little, you truly brought light onto "my" path and on this path I will continue with everlasting grateful and fond thoughts of you.

My deep sympathy and love go to Anthony's family and Tim

Beatrice M said...

Anthony's death leaves a hole in this world. My heart and prayers go out to his family and the legions of friends he left behind. His kindness, intelligence, generosity of spirit, and creativity radiated from him and brightened the surrounding world. I feel blessed to have known Anthony and I know my family certainly is. He will be sorely missed.

jane corden said...

Dear Anthony,

There will always be a place in my heart for you because you inspired me as you did the entire No1 crew and cast. Your special quality was to make everyone feel a significant part of the making of your film and that is so very rare among directors and yet so very important and visible in the end result. Your wonderful films are testament to that. Thankyou for the opportunity to be part of No1 your parting gift to a world that needs to understand its message and will hopefully sense the love and integrity that has been poured into it.

With much love and sadness

Jane Corden

CineChicks said...

Anthony Minghella died on the morning of the night of what was our London Premiere of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency movie. This was a movie that Anthony and I had been working on for about eight years together, a long journey, full of faces, sangomas, elephants, people, and a gentle and beautiful continent, Africa.

It is a complete shock when someone dies so suddenly, at such a young age, a light that extinguishes before you have expressed all that you should have expressed. I’m deeply sorry for his family, his friends - what a giant man, and a giant life! It is especially a loss for us, because Anthony was one of the rare poets who could translate such an event’s meaning (or lack thereof) for the rest of us. We look to him, his canvas, the interplay of light and dark, to guide us.

As the many stories emerge about his love and generosity, I most enjoy those that depict the human man, his inner conflicts, the rich tapestry of his life, for those simple moments, to me, are what informed and shaped his poetic genius. Tiny moments, a single image, I can hear Anthony saying, are what makes up our humanity, and there were certainly times I probably tested his humanity, but never his spirit – for he had an endless spirit.

His were big and small virtues all wrapped together uncannily as one. I remember his patience, a quality I don’t have, as I drove around in circles in a parking lot at the University of Botswana. We had come to Gaborone together so he could put the finishing touches on Richard Curtis’ and his screenplay for No. 1 Ladies. I was playing the expert and got us completely lost, driving around, what turned out to be a parking lot in the dusty capital. Anthony never said a word, never chided me. He always took the ordinary and made art from it.

He had a rare inquisitiveness matched by a visual immediacy. He had an eye. Boy did he have an eye. I remember once while scouting, a lilac breasted roller flew by. An explosion of colour. I’d been coming to Africa for 35 years and still couldn’t keep birds and species straight. In less than four hours in the bush, Anthony had already absorbed it all. He could have been intimidating – he saw so much – but his infectious good cheer made him otherwise.

He was casual in the best possible sense of the word. He and Carolyn came to the house for dinner once in London, the first time he was to meet Alexander McCall-Smith. After a pumpkin soup starter, worthy of Mma Ramotswe, Anthony cleared the empty soup bowls with me. In the kitchen he quipped, “I know how to do this. I did this as a kid in my parents’ café.” And he shuffled off to get more empty bowls.

There have been suggestions that like Fellini, as a teenager, he hadn’t enjoyed the work in his parent’s café. What young Italian man would want to bus tables when the beach beckoned and the sounds of Lucio Dalla wafted over the sand on a summer’s night?

But one sensed his roots made him accessible. One morning, on the same trip to work on the No. 1 Ladies screenplay, I picked him up at his modest cottage at the famous Mokolodi game reserve in Botswana, and had to pry him away from the cleaning staff. He counselled, consoled, cajoled, a young Motswana woman who wanted to get married but insisted that her boyfriend save up money to buy enough cows for her dowry first. Anthony crunched on cereal, out of an open box, “I love cereal” he looked passed me as I arrived, his mind far off with the woman’s story, her life, the cows, maybe his parents’ café, these seemingly random pieces, all connected to a full and vibrant understanding of life. We had to buy several boxes of cereal that trip!

He had a supreme talent for accepting life’s tangents as opportunities. Life presented itself in moments around every turn for him. When he and Carolyn arrived at the Sir Seretse Khama airport in Gabs, again the designated driver, I drove to pick them up. Carolyn had lost a small case so we had to wait. Anthony darted to the tiny bookstore contented. He loved a good book store (he loved stores generally, I found. I was always shopping with this great director.) There he found Unity Dow’s book, The Screaming of the Innocents, which became a key to the mystery of his No. 1 screenplay. Carolyn’s lost bag resulted in a found sensibility. No. 1 Ladies, a comedy, could only be made once he understood the darkness. Anthony said to me, “it’s like an oil painting. You start with a dark canvas, and then you add the light.”

And that’s what I think is happening now. ‘Our Ant’ is in the darkness and we have been left behind, suffering in shock. I do not feel him at the moment even though I am in the bush, a place he adored with the praying mantis, monkeys, grunting hippos. He found a new canvas in Africa, in Botswana.

But - I believe what will happen – for I have seen it over and over again in the years I have known and worked with him - - is that he will soon emerge for us, to soothe, translate, beckon, explain, calm – in the light. He will find his light, and lucky us, he will take us with him permanently, in magical ways, that we will see throughout our lives because of his influence, ways that will continue to inform, to tell us -- what it means to be alive.

I wish he were in Africa with me now, in the bush, soaking in life, losing his backpack, searching for his sun cream, laughing at his own bad jokes. But I do know that he will live on in ways I cannot yet understand, his ways, which will enhance and enrich our lives forever.

For that’s what he did. That’s who he was.

Thank you Anthony.

Shekhar said...

As Anthony's soul passes on, in it's continuing journey, I celebrate a life spent creatively, compassionately and with such kindness. He and his films brought so much love and understanding to us.

Anthony was,is and will forever be eternal. There are no beginings and no ends. Just a passage through the experience of eternity, part of which we call life.

Anthony and his wife Carolyn opened their home to me when I first came to London. They were always special friends. Always kind and generous whenever I felt the need for them.

Anthony was always available. Always. He never said no. He always found time. Such was his compassion and kindness that his was the first image that came to my mind when I would face a creative block or problem.

As always, when someone affects you deeply passes through, you wish you had spend more time with them. But I am just thankful that I had the moments I did,

Shekhar Kapur

Katherine Shannon said...

As with everyone else who knew him, I am still in shock at this great loss. Anthony was a man so full of life, and enjoyment of endless possibilities. His skill as an artist was so beautifully balanced by his personal curiousity and generosity as a man.
He allowed me into his life as my study for my dissertation as a mature student. I had always admired his work, but that admiration increased tenfold as his infectious humour, dedication and respect of all those around him, as he worked on "breaking and entering" was entirely engaging. He treated everyone as family, and lunchtimes at mirage were like being in Italy-full of noise, laughter, gossip and plans.
I have no grandiose words to express how I feel. I can only say that I feel privilaged to have known him, and intend to work as hard as he did to keep my dreams alive. To do less would be to dishonour him.
To Natalie, Karen, Tim and all at Mirage, and to Carolyn, Max and Hannah-my love to you all. Ant was a gift that can never be forgotten.

Liz Jensen said...

I met Anthony in February 2004 when he awarded me the greatest honour I have ever been given in my professional life as a writer, an honour that most novelists would chew off their own arm for: he chose my book, The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, to adapt and direct as a movie. Our first meeting was at Mirage, where we all sat around a table piled high with food like a Harry Potter banquet. He was dressed entirely in black, which gave him a priestly aura. He was eloquent and modest and earnest and overwhelmingly generous about my novel. It was quite a formal occasion, involving agents and lawyers, but there were moments of laughter – though I was too stunned by the whole turn of events to take it in properly at the time. Half-way through, Harvey Weinstein called from the States and told me: ‘Liz, you can put on your party dress, because with Anthony Minghella in charge, we’re going to make one helluva motion picture.’ Afterwards, Anthony laughed gleefully and said that was ‘typical Harvey.’ It was clear there was huge mutual affection.

When the business part of the meeting broke up I told Anthony that his mother Gloria had been a student of mine on a creative writing course a couple of years earlier, and that I had also taught at his son Max’s school: at this he broke into another huge smile of delight. ‘That’s incredible! I’m going to ring Mum right away and tell her!’ And he whipped out his mobile: ‘Mum, can you believe this?’ It was immensely touching. I already knew from talking to his mother that he was part of a very loving, close-knit family, but now I had caught a glimpse of it.

Before we left, Colin Vaines showed the short, very funny spoof of Cold Mountain that he and the others at Mirage had made, in which as I recall Colin – or was it Tim Bricknell? - donned a blonde wig and played a very deep-voiced Nicole Kidman. It was hilarious, and no-one laughed louder than Anthony, who clearly loved to tease and be teased: for me, that little incident provided the icing on an amazing cake of a day.

A week or so later I had dinner with Anthony and Carolyn at their club, where we talked more about our children and our domestic lives than anything else: their son Max was just beginning his acting career, and Carolyn had just returned from a visit to the set in the States. They were both thrilled for him, and very proud. Over the months Anthony and I met again: first at my book launch, then at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, and later at an evening organised by the writers’ organisation PEN. Thanks to Anthony’s presence, these events attracted big crowds. I was immensely grateful that he had given up his time to showcase my work, out of the sheer kindness of his heart. He could have been doing a thousand other things.

He had planned to start shooting The Ninth Life of Louis Drax as early as possible, and had even started crewing up back in 2004, but a series of delays meant that he was only just re-entering the project when his life was cut short. Just two weeks earlier, out of the blue, I’d had an enthusiastic e-mail from him, asking if I could ‘bear’ to be involved, when the time came. Of course I could ‘bear’ be involved!

But the time never came, and I never got to know him better, as I had hoped to, or to start using the more intimate ‘Ant’ in lieu of Anthony, or to see the screenplay that would emerge, or to see any of the films he would have gone on to write, direct, produce and inspire.

Losses like this are brutal, senseless and unfair. They feel like robbery. And worse, random robbery. You want to get childish about it, and yell: ‘Why couldn’t ten other people have died instead of him? People who didn’t matter so much, people who weren’t so magical and so loved?’

It wasn’t just the priestly black outfit that gave me the impression that Anthony was a spiritual person: it was in his whole manner. So I guess if he were here now, he would give an elegant and generous answer to that childish question.

I only wish I knew what it was.

Laurie Dunn said...

Your memory will never fade from our hearts and your spirit will always be welcome in our land.
The No 1 Unity and Transport Department.

Geraint Huw Reynolds said...

The last I saw Anthony was at the Mirage Christmas party of 2004 (at least that's when I think it was) so I'll hardly say that I was a close friend but I had worked for a year and a half on one of his films. Although a few years have since passed, Anthony was never, ever far from my thoughts.

He had such quiet magnetism and warmth, he always made you feel welcome and respected no matter how ridiculous a thing you were saying. He always listened and made your ridiculous point seem not quite so ridiculous anymore (thankfully).

I have many memories of him, from discussing The English Patient with him and not having the heart to tell him that I had not seen it and wondering if he would notice that I didn't have a clue what I was talking about, to talking about how fiercely proud he was of his work on Grange Hill.

Although I wouldn't say that I was close to him he had a certain quality. Of all the inspirational people I have worked with over the years he is the one that seems to top the list. He is the one I wanted to periodically update with news of how I was doing in my career. Without his knowing it, he's a big part of the reason I have been pushing myself. I wanted to show him how I could grow from being a little assistant editor on his film.

He will be sorely missed, not just for his talents but because the world has lost a genuine kind man. I am grateful for having known him at all. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for his family and my thoughts are with them.


simonchase said...

When working with Anthony, he made you feel that your contribution to his film was essential to its success. A man of his stature (he'd hate that description - sorry) had no need to be so generous of spirit. But that was just how he was. Also, he was really funny.

There is an Anthony Minghella shaped hole in the universe.

I'll miss him.

Simon Chase

John Woodward said...

Anthony was my dear friend and occasionally also my moral compass. For me the most difficult thing to come to terms with over the past 10 days has been the suddenness, the absolute finality of it all. And alongside the shock, I can’t help feeling ….well, slightly ambushed. Which is both unreasonable and unfair because, except in his writing, the surprise attack was never part of the Minghella repertoire. Rather, Anthony drew you in close with that unique and totally beguiling mixture of Italian warmth and energetic argument. And the debate always underpinned at his end with logic not just emotion, and always seasoned with a healthy dose of pragmatism because Anthony seemed to me to be a person who preferred to dream dreams that he could then set about turning into reality.

Last week’s news stirred up a tidal wave of emotion and a lot of people have written eloquently and movingly about Anthony’s love for Carolyn and Max and Hannah and about his intelligence, and his charm and his commitment to the arts and especially to film. I can’t add anything to those words but at least I can try to recollect some of the different ways I knew him.

There was the Anthony I saw performing in public. Like at press conferences and film festivals. He could do the set piece presentation like nobody else. Always superfluent, always left any speaking notes trailing in the dust, kept his voice quite low, always kept the room leaning in. There was Anthony at parties, which was something else again. Charming, courteous, elegantly turned out with his “old world” manners to the fore. But to be honest I didn’t ever sense that he really enjoyed big parties. In fact I don’t think Anthony was really a “big party” kind of person.

There was the Anthony I encountered in big formal meetings. Like board meetings with 20 people around the table. And in those situations he always seemed particularly still. He would listen quietly and attentively and he always timed his interventions precisely and for maximum effect. And usually just when the argument was going the wrong way – not his way - he’d make his perfectly articulated point and tip the debate deftly back in the direction he favoured, and he always took care to come into the discussion far too late for the opposition to re-run their argument. A neat trick and I never tired of watching him perform it. But actually I don’t think Anthony was a “big meeting” kind of person either,

But then there was Anthony in small meetings. In his office at Mirage, in other people’s offices, in restaurants, in rooms, in the corners of rooms, in fact anywhere he could get eye contact and carve some time out of his permanently and ludicrously overstuffed meeting schedule. That nasty LA phrase, “good in the room”. But, oh Boy, was Anthony good in the room. The combination of the warmth, the charm, his undivided attention and the perfect expression of the idea – and every moving part of the proposition under discussion built on the strongest foundation of all; the fact that Anthony never put his name to anything he didn’t truly believe in. Resistance was futile

And of course there was Anthony one-to-one - where you felt like you were the most important person in the world. He travelled so much that “catching-up” with Anthony could get to be pretty much a full time job. He like to break bread, to talk and eat, and there were a lot of quite elaborate salad lunches in his office but there were also a vast number of take-aways snatched over the years in the backs of dubbing theatres across Soho. But wherever you went, there was always a steady stream of espresso coffee.

The first time we sat down to work together, he dared me to make him a promise; that I would always be utterly candid with him and in return he would do the same for me. We agreed to keep what we said, and what we said about other people, totally between us. It was a brilliant arrangement which over the years solved a hundred problems before they ever became problems. Of course, looked at another way, Anthony was a Catholic and he had put me in the confessional, a place where he was always going to be a lot more comfortable than I ever could be.

I remember spending a morning with him somewhere south of Kings Cross when he was directing “Breaking and Entering” and it was completely unsurprising to see how he effortlessly controlled the testosterone sprawl of a feature film shoot. He did it by turning even that complex, creative, labour-intensive process into a series of one-to-one meetings with his cast and crew until he captured on film exactly the vision he had in his head.

By chance Sydney Pollack was in London that day and we had lunch. Sydney and I both ate from the catering wagon while Anthony, as usual, ordered something hyper-healthy, that wasn’t on the menu, while he drank something natural and thick from a big cardboard cup. The lunchtime discussion was an open window on why the Sydney/Anthony Mirage partnership worked so effectively and I was so struck by the relaxed and totally direct connection between Anthony and Sydney, and the absolute level of mutual respect and affection.

Given all the globetrotting, inevitably I also remember Anthony for his 2 cell phones and his Blackberry. Outside the UK he suddenly morphed into Ant of Antcolony.com but any email or text or voicemail sent into the Anthill invariably got returned the same day. I still don’t know how he managed to keep in touch personally with everyone while meeting his own manic schedule. Every now and then you’d begin a conversation with Anthony at say, 11.00pm his time, and if you listened very carefully you might just hear the faintest click as the mental drawer labelled “Butterfly/NY/costumes” slid shut and the drawer marked “more cash for the BFI” slid open. But overall it was a remarkably seamless way of working.

Which triggers a final memory. Anthony always used to sign off his emails to me with the words, “Love there,”

Indeed, there was.

Jack White said...

When I arrived on the set of Cold Mountain, I thought for sure that in the world of big Hollywood productions, that the egos would be raging, and people would be screaming at me within a few takes, etc.

I instead found the warmest of environments with people that had the most pleasant attitude. I was so shocked, I actually started telling people that I couldn’t believe the vibe was so warm on the set.

I was quickly told that it was because of Anthony Minghella, and that his warmth and understanding trickled down from the top to every person working on the film. I instantly learned a lot from Ant when I heard that statement. I’ll never forget it. I’ll also not forget him taking a chance on a young Punk like me and letting me be involved in the beautiful music from that film.

He saw, as I hoped he would, that folk music is a bridge we all walk upon.

Thank you Anthony, may the angels meet you halfway and escort your soul into heaven.

Jack White

Trinette L. Faint said...

Thank you Anthony for being you. For your generosity, wonderful spirit, warm heart, great smile and all the kindness you showed me. I am honored to have known you. Thank you for being you.

My love and sympathies to Max, Carolyn, and Hannah.

Jane Evans said...

I had never met Anthony when he called from Asheville, NC to ask me to join him next day to see where the soul of the film he wanted to make was set. He was certain that if I saw it I would understand and help him make Cold Mountain where and how he envisioned it. I flew there the next day and revelled in the beauty he found, and for a short time was blessed with sharing his magnificent vision and thrilled to be in a position to help bring it to life. It didn't take very long for the financial realities to interfere with the purity of his vision and for us execs to start hacking away at at it. I've always felt that I let him down by not fighting harder for him - even with his eloquent remarks about how Romania more closely represented the landscape of the 19th century south, without it's tatoo of superhighways and strip malls, even when he said these things, I knew that he was disappointed to have lost the soul of the story by having to shoot in Bucharest and Brasov. It pains me to have been a part of limiting his grandiloquent vision. At the same time, I think the film was beautiful - think of the amazing sequence when Ada sees Inman finally returning to her and how it couldn't have been more gorgeous anywhere. He had an
enlightened rationale about this - that creativity needed limits and boundaries to thrive.... but I still knew that he was disappointed and pissed off about it.

did he know how he touched everyone - everyone he worked with and made them feel important?
I remember the look on the face of an intern after he returned from having driven Anthony - like he was touched by an angel. He was not only amazed that Anthony talked to him, but that he was actually interested in him and engaged with him about his hopes and aspirations, and the kid came back floating on air feeling validated and inspired.

For everyone he's touched, the power of his enlightened being will continue to spread expontentially.

Mike Gillespie said...

Anthony Minghella: Writer, Director, Producer, Musician and Bowling Champion

Most of us know Anthony as one or all of the first three titles above and there's no question he has made a most significant contribution to the British film industry as one of it's foremost ambassadors.

Perhaps less is known to of his extraordinary musical sensibilities and prowess on the bowling alley.....

Anthony Minghella: The Musician
I was fortunate to work with Anthony on his last two films as his Music Supervisor. Now, looking back, the idea that he needed any "Musical Supervision" seems laughable. Something I quickly learned about Anthony was that he knew his music. It was such an important component in his world that it influenced his writing; it provided him with another lens while shooting; it was a thread that ran right through his life and his creative process. And it wasn't just that he loved and understood how to use music - he made it. During the first sessions at Abbey Road recording the "Breaking & Entering" score and while the rest of us were still trying to figure out how this collaboration between Gabriel Yared and Underworld might work, Anthony, without even appearing to think about what he was doing, sat at a Piano and started to play and sing. He hadn't yet even witnessed Gabriel, Karl and Rick working together, but he seemed instinctively to know the language they were developing between them. I think the resulting soundtrack to that movie is perhaps one of his less recognised triumphs.

Anthony Minghella: The 10-pin Bowling Champion
It was Christmas 2005, and a group of us were going bowling. Why? Well I asked that too - and without blinking an eye, Anthony explained that he had in his youth been a Bowling Champion of some repute and that he just fancied doing it again. Fair enough. He was very convincing and I was/am extremely gullible. However, on arrival at the Bloomsbury Lanes it very quickly became apparent that I'd been duped. He was absolutely terrible and delighted in the fact that he made the rest of us look and feel like champions.

These are very particular memories I have of Anthony. An insightful, sensitive and inspiring collaborator who always managed to make you feel good about your contribution.

I'm going to miss him enormously and will be forever grateful for the opportunities, guidance and encouragement he offered me, and my thoughts are very much with his family - his Mum and Dad, Carolyn, Hannah and Max - and with his extended family at Mirage - Caroline, Karen, Natalie and Tim.

Albert Berger said...

I remember Ant, knee deep in mud on a hillside in Sinaia Romania, almost 80 days into production on
"Cold Mountain", somehow with his dignity intact.

Watching England-Brazil in The World Cup at 4am in a hotel room in Nashville.

Always with music, making music, listening to a fully jammed I-Pod bursting with his wide ranging enthusiasms, often singing, sometimes pensive, other times his head bopping.

He was an accomplished soloist, a truly great writer, a filmmaker with his own distinctive concerns and poetry. But he was so strong in partnership as well. Collaborating with friends everywhere (how did he find the time?), always with Tim, with his Mirage family, his film family, and especially with Carolyn, Max and Hannah.

Some filmmakers only hear one voice. Anthony surrounded himself with an army of voices. They were loud, confident and skilled voices. And they all served to make him stronger. People gave everything they had to Ant. You wanted to do your very best for him.

I hear his robust laughter, delighted by an animated safety film before takeoff on Tarom airlines to Bucharest, featuring a father and his bearded 6 year old son.

My partner Ron and I will never forget his generosity on "Bee Season" when he offered his work space as an editing sanctuary and gave guidance, asking for nothing in return.

I still feel his warm supportive hand on my back. I see his sly smile. Like so many others, in such a deep way, I will miss him and never forget him.

Albert Berger

Tom Sternberg said...

Anthony was a good and close friend for many years and his passionate dedication to a rich full personal and professional life is a model for all of us who knew him. Anthony’s disappearance leaves a huge hole in the lives of the many people, including me, who were touched in one way or another by his grace, generosity of spirit and intelligence. I shall greatly miss him and “Tom, hi, it’s Ant” will always be with me.

Derin Seale said...

Being in Anthony’s presence always overwhelmed me. His welcoming smile and hug was so honest and real, and when he looked at you there was a wisdom and intelligence so vast it almost rendered you helpless. I met Anthony when I was 18. There is no easy way to describe the moment in life when somebody really inspires you for the first time.

While many might dismiss the dreams of young aspirations, he seemed to relish an opportunity to give others a chance. There was such a compassion and generosity in his spirit that seemed to infect all that worked with him, that brought out the very best in those he drew to his side.

Anthony, perhaps unknowingly, allowed me the greatest memories of my life. It was a gift he gave to so many unconditionally, and it is this spirit of generosity that I will always hold as my memory of him. It is heartbreaking to think of Anthony’s absence. There has always a part of me that knew I had to live up to that gift, to give it back in some way, at some point. It is a goal that has only strengthened in resolve.

It is difficult to contain such emotions in such simple words, and a part of me knows it was really only Anthony who could express such a feeling in a true and elegant way.

On the first day of shooting Cold Mountain Anthony pulled me aside and told me a story to help me understand what he wanted from the scene. He said (something close too)...

‘When I was a child I was taken by my father to a pebble beach north of London. A dark storm developed over the ocean, and yet I only remember seeing it because I tripped and almost cut my knee on the ground. I think in a way we need to trip the audience, and give them a reason to remember.’

Anthony, thank you so very much.

Derin Seale.

phillip noyce said...

Anthony,you shared insights and inspiration in a way that elevated the hard grind of making a movie into a celebration of human potential.On The Quiet American and Catch A Fire you were there at every stage,from script to screen....helping me find the movie and find myself.As I think about all those conversations,I realise that inside those characters and scenes I also found you.
Ant,you are alive in all of us.Phillip Noyce.

Sarah Miller said...

Anthony’s and my friendship began with a telephone call, which turned into a wonderful conversation spanning 11 years. Seeing The English Patient again on BBC television the other night, his words still ring fresh in my ears. I was working at the Telegraph’s Saturday magazine and had commissioned an interview with Anthony about his forthcoming film. The piece went to press some weeks before the Oscar ceremony, but it was clear that Anthony was in the running for Best Director. So I changed the headline to say he was an Oscar-winner. It was rash and foolhardy, but I was convinced he would win. The morning after he did, I left a message on his home phone to say how thrilled I was. Some weeks later I received a call to ask if I’d like to meet at his club. Having left the Telegraph to launch Condé Nast Traveller magazine, I arrived with the thought of asking him if he would consider being a contributor. He spoke at length about his boyhood on the Isle of Wight and said I should also talk to his brother and sisters about that glorious island. That’s when I twigged. ‘Actually, I was rather hoping you might write about some exotic islands for this new magazine that is launching in the autumn,’ I said. Anthony’s face broke into laughter and he admitted in the most disarmingly charming way that he had been under the impression that I was a reporter called Mary from the BBC radio programme Down Your Way.
From then on we were ‘Down Our Way’ as friends, colleagues and collaborators. We sourced the most wonderful monastery in Italy where he revised his film script for The Talented Mr Ripley – he later sent me an early draft of the script to read – and we published his evocative account of the privations of writing alone but eating well at La Frateria di Padre Eligio. In a later piece he described filming along the coast in Italy and in Rome: ‘Last year I spent a great deal more time in Italy than anywhere else, but on reflection it’s clear to me that I wasn’t really in Italy, but in a country of my own imagination…’ Our long-cherished project of a feature on exotic islands – Maldives, Bali and the Isle of Wight – was well under way. But since he was filming in Romania for much of that time the conversations continued via the emails that would suddenly pop up at strange times of night, yet were delivered with as much fun and warmth as if he was in the same room. He introduced me to Carolyn and his extended family at Mirage – the heavenly Tim and Karen – over an Italian antipasto lunch and a discussion about the new building for the British Film Institute. Memories of lovely dinners in our kitchen and at his and Carolyn’s new home mingle with those of seeing early edits of Cold Mountain, of visiting the Abbey Road studios to listen to the amazing music he and Gabriel Yared created, and being invited onto the set of Breaking and Entering to see an ebullient Anthony running up the road past the King’s Cross gasometers as he directed Jude Law and Robyn Wright Penn in a final scene. I remember watching his favourite film Il Vitelloni at the BFI and seeing the incredible Madame Butterfly he created with Carolyn for the English National Opera. He was as meticulous in his friendship as he was in his writing and directing – even when he was with the big celebrities he gave his time equally to everyone. There are so many episodes, but a special moment was the evening we were privileged enough to be with him and Carolyn at the Italian ambassador’s residence when he received the insignia of Commendatore of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in the presence of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and the Minister for Culture, Tessa Jowell, not least because as he made his generous and characteristically modest speech you could see the beaming pride on his parents’ faces. He made even the most formal of occasions feel like you were part of his family, and that’s why I felt so blessed by being part of his incredible global network of friends. He knew how to get to the heart of each and every one of us, leaving us feeling enriched by even a few moments of his company. After he had finished his last piece for Condé Nast Traveller, about filming No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana – in which he spoke of the delight in actually ‘being able to shoot Botswana in Botswana, after having shot Cairo in Venice, Venice in Rome, North Carolina in Transylvania and London in Bristol’ – he wanted to take Carolyn away; so we arranged for them to go on, after his daughter Hannah’s wedding, to Thailand. He would have loved it. When he had to change his plans, my alternative offer of either chicken soup or dancing girls didn’t seem quite exotic enough, but Anthony said he’d settle for the dancing girls when it was all over. I hope that whichever island he has travelled to he’s listening to lovely music, the girls are dancing and the food is good. And his gentle, encouraging voice is getting the best out of everyone. My love and heartfelt thoughts are with Carolyn, Max and Hannah, his parents, Tim, Karen and all at Mirage.

Sarah Miller

Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal said...

I met Anthony through our mutual friend Mark Shivas when I was very young and hiding in London, wishing hard not to be an American. Ashamed to be an American. How little has changed.
I was in love with the clarity and humor and articulateness of the Brits. With their parks and theater and history. With Monty Python and warm beer. It took me a little while to realize that all that reasonableness was going to send me home. Make it clear to me just how American I was. But not before I collected some life long friends.
I knew Ant before he was “anybody” and certainly, before I had any kind of career. Back home I was an underground railway stop for UK film folks who wanted someone who knew how to make a pot of tea and understand actual English, as they made their first forays into the warm green surreality of LA.
For me, the visits were sense memories of grey days in damp London. Shillings in the hot water heater. Indian curry to warm you up and the endless clever minds that made me laugh and think.
I saw Truly, Madly, Deeply in LA. Remembering Ant and marveling at the warmth and wisdom of it. I’d never seen anything that had so much compassion and understanding for the state of grief. That embodied love so well. That didn’t talk down or around tough stuff. That allowed noses to run and get red. That let people be complicated and messy. That made you want to do your own best work. I was enthralled and made it my business to see him again when I returned for my yearly pilgrimage. Mark and Caroline and Ant and Stephen and I ate a curry in a cheap restaurant in a shopping mall and once again we were connected.
We stayed friends. We watched each other’s films, read each other’s scripts and made suggestions. Applauded at openings. Helped with failures. Allowed failures. You had to have them if you were going to take risks.
We shared meals. Many meals. Even cooked together.
We shared friends. Surprising intersections of them. The blessing of the work we do.
We adopted each other’s children as they made the leap into the messy business of theater and filmmaking.
I remember Max coming more often than seemed reasonable to see Jake in This Was Our Youth. And then following in his footsteps. How natural it seemed to see him in Bee Season. A mixed up soup of associations and nurturings, that had Antony mentoring the director’s cut. How proud we were of our kids. How glad when we could praise and support each other’s work.
Then Max came to Columbia and he and I would meet for coffee when the class I was teaching in screenwriting ended each week.
How like his dad he was. In speech and sweetness. In how he put his hand on you when he spoke. Watched. Listened. Ready to open the door or pass the plate.
Maybe, we can take some comfort in Truly Madly. Perhaps, it will help us a little through our own grief and surprise and anger. Because there is anger. But, as Ant tried to tell us then, we can find some comfort in the gift of what we have had. We can’t ever lose that. The sadness is that we will have no more.
But we will have Hannah, and Caroline and Max. Ant is in them. And we have his work. And each of us have the memories of how he touched us in private and particular ways.
A man in his prime. With so much yet to come. But so much already done and left for us to marvel at.

Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal

Michelle Pizanis said...

Anthony – unfinished life
Thank you for making my first film making experience the most memorable as to this day the friends I made on Cold Mountain, I still consider to be part of my film family.
You will be surely missed amongst us all but you have left us with so many examples of fine film making and talent that you will never be forgotten.
To Carolyn, Max and Hannah, my deepest sympathy and heart felt condolences and may god give you the strength to cope with his sudden passing and adjust to his absence, though I am sure his spirit will always surround you.
To his extended Film family from Tim, all at Mirage and all of us who had the opportunity to work with him and watch his collaboration with others, how fortunate were we to witness this firsthand and that we all, in some way have a story/moment to tell where he made us feel uniquely special.

Michelle Pizanis (Camera Dept. Cold Mountain 2002)

Ron Yerxa said...

As one of the producers of Cold Mountain, I knew Anthony to be one of the great emotional democrats. So much of his art was about the pain of class divisions, but he himself made everyone around him feel like they lived in a village of honored equals.

He wore the mantle of director so lightly that all the crew felt very comfortable approaching him, and likewise he'd be the first to engage the waiter or clerk as a person of great personal interest. Yes, there was a movie to be made but also a life to live.

In the freezing locations of Romania he exuded warmth and openness - working with so little of the privilege that many directors expect. A small moment in the middle of the night has always stuck with me. In Brasov, a dank abandoned factory was being used as a rather miserable sound stage. Looking for Ant, my partner Albert and I opened his trailer door to find him shivering under a blanket because the heater didn't work. But for him this was no problem, no need to summon anyone - the blanket was good enough and he was ready to discuss whatever was on our minds.

When we were shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, Ant would often appear in the lobby before call time to socialize and ask how everyone was doing. At the end of the exhausting schedule in Romania, Ant stayed up with Tim on one of the last nights to inscribe tintypes for crew gifts. He was quite rightly bone-tired but still the most energized man on the set.

Beyond his endurance, the bigger mystery of Ant is how he could possibly be so emotionally present for so many people. Even after lengthy gaps in seeing him, he seemed to enter your life at full speed and with total empathy. He did so many generous acts for us but then you'd talk to someone else who also was the focus of his largesse. He quickly answered your e-mail, took your call, and gave immediate helpful advice. He was so important to so many people, how did he manage it?

I guess I saw Ant as just a more evolved version of mankind. Everyone should know a man like Ant and I’m so grateful that I did. He embodied the beautiful idea of a life gone right.

Ant was so exuberant about his family - Carolyn, Hannah, and Max. You got the feeling he wanted us all to share in that joy.

I think that all of us who shared a small part of Anthony's world for even a brief time feel like we were members of a wonderful commune. We were fortunate to get a small taste of the celebration of life that Ant, his family, and his extended family created. We were witnesses to a great friend, artist, husband, and father – a great man.

Ron Yerxa

Eddy Joseph said...

I feel enormously privileged to have been Anthony's Supervising Sound Editor on his last three film projects. I wish that there had been more because he was one of the most collaborative, generous and sensitive Directors that I have worked with. Final mixing was a huge pleasure. Anthony would ask for everyone's comments and opinions before telling you of his creative decision. It may be that he had already made his decision but he made you believe that your views counted and in that way gave you confidence.

I would like to echo a previous sentiment which was that 'he was so important to so many people'.
He was. I am missing him now and will miss him even more when I fully realise our and the industry's loss.

Eddy Joseph

Ben Jackson said...

It is so hard to know what to write at a time like this. Words seems so futile but they are also so powerful as Anthony knew better than most. I first met the great man back in 2002 in the lounge at Heathrow on my first job in the movie business, heading to film in Romania. Over the next few months and years I was fortunate enough to be in his great company on several occasions both at work and at play and was always struck by his great humility so rare in someone in such an industry.

No person or subject too small to gain his attention, he showed such warmth, generosity and passion to all he came across on a film set no matter what role they held. His drive, enthusiasm and energy were infectious throughout the crew and he created a beautiful "family" that I for one shall never forget. His love of literature, film, music and life in general was a joy to behold but it was his love for his wife and children that was so apparent and my thoughts are with them all. May he rest in peace and harmony.

Ben Jackson

Jim Hawkins said...

Ant was like a younger brother to me, and it was a deep shock to come in from lunch to find the BBC phoning me for comment, when I had not heard the news.

The obituaries have got so much wrong about the early years that I would like to pay tribute somebody without whom Ant's career might never, or much later, have come to be what it was.

Ant was living across the avenue from me in Hull, and was a great friend and squash partner, when Ruth Boswell, at the BBC, phoned and asked me to write for a new TV series about a psychiatric hospital, which was going to be called Maybury. I wasn't totally happy with the subject area, but knew Ant was, and that his wife, Vonnie, was a psychologist. He'd written a couple of plays - my elder daughter Sara played a blind girl in his first stage play "Child's Play" - and I knew how talented he was.

Ruth was very resistant at first to having an unknown writer on a collaboration, but very bravely put her head on the block and agreed. Ant and I wrote 7 episodes of Maybury together. The first group of three had Juliet Stephenson starring, and that was when they established a great working relationship. And, of course, Patrick Stewart played the ever calm psychiatrist; I like to think that may helped in his command of a starship.

When Ant's marriage to Vonnie ended he was in a pretty bad state, and spent a lot of nights with me drinking scotch and crashing out in my spare room. He then got ill and had a collapsed lung. As he was recovering Ruth phoned and said they'd had an episode of Maybury turn out to be a write-off, and could the lads do something fast? We did. I was worried about Ant's health, but, as always, even flaked out on a bed, he could muster the stamina to fight the battles that collaborating writers need to have to anticipate and sidestep the interventions of script editors, and we wrote a good episode called "Indoor Games" with wonderful performances from Suzanne Burtish and Michael Kitchen.

What hasn't really been mentioned is that Ruth Boswell got Ant his role as Grange Hill script editor. And what very few people know up to now is that he was so good at it that when he said "I'm leaving" they asked what they could do to keep him for six months, and Ant said he wanted to do the BBC Director's course, a very privileged elite event for about half a dozen candidates a year. Eventually, it was agreed, and that was the launch pad for Ant writing and directing "Truly,Madly,Deeply" and going on to all the other things.

It's a devastating blow. Although Ant was a great director and wonderful with actors, as his mentor and collaborator I do think that our greatest loss will be the plays that he might have written. I'm proud to have played a part, and profoundly sad that I won't have any more late night arguments about what the next line should be.

bruna papandrea said...

i met Ant when I was 29 years old and he changed my life and really made my dreams come true. i had produced my first little movie in Australia and i was lucky enough to be with a group of crazy Irish folk who had produced all of Samuel Becketts plays as films with the most wonderful group of filmmakers which included Anthony. He said he felt like he was trying to listen to the same radio station as us, but he was on a sightly different frequency. He was also in Toronto looking for someone to go and work with he and his amazing partner Sydney Pollack at their new London office for Mirage. I had just made my first film and couldn't imagine why he thought i might be a candidate. He told me some time later that I was the most inexperienced person he met, but he knew that he would come into the office and that I would make him smile every single day. He thought we would have fun and indeed we did. Within four weeks I had moved to London and it was there I stayed living in Primrose Hill minutes away from Ant and our wonderful office Old Chapel Studios for five amazing years. There is so much to say about this time and I still cry as I try and write about these memories. We cooked and ate together every day. When I left Mirage and the UK it was a very sad day. It was like leaving a family, not a job. I remain life long friends with so many of my Mirage family on both sides of the Atlantic and I thank Ant and Sydney every day for bringing them into my life. I was in a taxi today in NYC. I was stressed and impatient because the driver was talking loudly in Russian on his phone. It was making me crazy. Suddenly I took a breath and I thought about what Ant would be thinking in the back of this cab. He would be wondering where this man was from and who he was talking to. He would want to know about this mans life and his past and what was on the other side of that phone call. He cared so much about people and he pulled back the curtains for us all to see. I was so lucky to have seen he and Carolyn in la recently. It meant so much to me that he was proud of the woman i have started to become. I will continue to try and make him proud and give as much to the world and to people as I can. I cannot send enough love to Carolyn, Max, Hannah,Dom, Gloria and Edward and all of Ants family. To my Mirage family and especially the amazing Tim, Caroline and Karen I am here always.
All My Love

Peter Markham said...

Anthony saw me through all-night rehearsals in the boat club for our band when we were at Hull University, his keyboards and his vocals, my guitar, a bass, a sax, and a drummer with the battery of a double kit that launched a barrage throughout the long nights. Then he saw me through all the flavours of Minghella Ice Cream when I stayed with his remarkable and inspiring family in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, not so far from my own home on the mainland to the west. There in Ryde he saw me too through a somewhat unusual encounter with his mischievous amd wonderful grandmother whom I will never forget. Later, Anthony saw me through the BBC Director's Course when he wrote THE TABLE for me and all I had to do was direct the finest piece of writing that school had ever or has ever seen. He saw me through the loss of my brother when he introduced me to the JS Bach of Glenn Gould and to the sublime suspense of emotion and cadence that flows through those daunting recordings. He saw me through TRULY MADLY DEEPLY when I, as his 1st AD, had the chance to witness him make his first film and to realise just how dauntingly brilliant an artist he could be. He saw me through a spell of homelessness when he and Carolyn invited me into theor home with such generosity and I lived with them for some of the happiest weeks of my life. Then he saw me through THE ENGLISH PATIENT when he sent me away up into the air and far off into the Sahara Desert to direct his 2nd Unit and he saw me also in that movie through my discontent and showed me how to engage effectively and decently with others through appreciation, mutuality and hope.

Anthony saw me through my marriage in Manhattan when he was my best man, and although he was shooting at 5.30 the following morning he, Carolyn and Max stayed throughout the evening to celebrate with us.

A secret revealed. Anthony borrowed an essay or two of mine at university but despite my decent mark he was given only a C. I suppose it was because our teachers had remembered reading my wretched effort before. Another secret. Since university I have tried in turn to copy from Anthony his humanity, his wisdom, and his love but I have to admit that I have barely managed to scrape so much as a Z.

Ant was all of the extraordinary things that so many people have written, and nobody could deserve those paeans more. But for me, when it comes to Anthony Minghella, I want to say other things too. I want to recognise that Ant was a complex, contradictory person. He was incredibly tough, driven, a politician and a master of power play, a shrewd businessman, and sometimes, to some, he could present a distinctly formidable front. Yet he was the kindest, gentlest, sweetest man I have known, and a caring man who at times I could not do without. It was in the fullness and sweep of that breathtaking soul of his that he found a rare and exemplary integrity. He was both a magnificent human being and at the same time a friend like no other, a dear friend with whom it was enough simply to sit in silence, breathing, throwing looks, reflecting, sighing, smiling, laughing and knowing all the time that whatever transpired, we would always hug each other just as tightly whenever we met.

Naively I didn't realise that this would come to an end. "Free-ee-ee Ant'ny Minghella!" he would sing at one time with a twinkle in his eye, sing it to the tune of "Free Nelson Mandela." He may be free now, I don't know. He may be free, but we are shackled to our grief. I miss you Ant. I have no intention of getting over it either. If I can't have you, I want to have the missing of you. And that I know I will have.

Peter Markham
Los Angeles

Stephanie said...

Waking up to NPR as I do everyday and hearing about the death of Anthony Minghella, I immediately thought it was a mistake. But at the mention of his credits, I knew it must be true. I went through my day in a daze not really understanding why, but sensed the loss of a spirit that shed light and joy over everyone who ever met him, or saw his beautiful movies. It was a strange feeling for me, as I had not been in direct contact with Anthony for 10 years since working at Mirage for my mentor Bill Horberg. Those years at Mirage for me were of creative and personal growth. Being around genius minds like Anthony and Sydney Pollack was a true gift and one I wear proudly today as talent agent in the film business. While working at Mirage, Bill produced THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and the company bought COLD MOUNTAIN. Two fascinating stories which explore the human condition and show how strong we are as a species to overcome pain and heartbreak and still survive - how ironic. I remember having long conversations with Anthony about movies and life in general. As an assistant, it was a big deal to have this brilliant filmmmaker(I loved TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY and THE ENGLISH PATIENT) spend time chatting with me when he had so much to do, but he always made me feel special and it was his pleasure to know me. In the past couple of weeks I've done some personal soul searching, and what I learned is Anthony lived his life with honesty, courage and optimism, which is how I...we should all strive to live. In doing so, we lose nothing and gain so very much. In Anthony's case, he was able to give the world the gift of his heart through his films which touched so many. For me, I feel blessed to have known him, however brief. Thanks Doc Minghella. Stephanie Comer

David Lascelles said...

The news of Anthony’s death shocked and shook me up more than I could have possibly imagined. I still can’t really believe its true. He of all people had so much more to offer: films to make, conversations to be had, jokes to share, music to enjoy, questions to ask. The man who was always there to discuss or advise or share his wisdom (to use a very Anthony phrase) suddenly isn’t any more. Hard to come to terms with even as someone who, although I’ve known Ant and Carolyn for many years, hasn’t seen that much of them recently.

Lovely to see though the very genuine warmth of the tributes to him from a whole range of people. Lovely too that his last film, The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, should be one of such warmth and humour and humanity, the three words that perhaps describe him best.

In a piece of dramatic patterning that Anthony would have appreciated (or maybe questioned as being too on the nose?) my first grand-child was born four days after his death. His given names are Leo Cyrus Anthony.

David Lascelles.

Eddie Dunlop said...

I spent just a small amount of time with Anthony--I was in a few casting sessions at Mirage in LA with him on “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency”--but he nonetheless had a tremendous impact on me. Anthony created such an open and safe creative environment during auditions, and I would describe his approach to the process as deeply humanistic, in the most empathetic and experiential sense.

At times, a feeling of a revolving door can occur during a casting session, a get-them-in, get-them-out quality that tends to dehumanize. Never a moment so with Anthony. Every audition was treated with thoughtful, precise care and his 100% attention. People coming in to read were made to feel that they were, first and foremost, fellow human beings…and, creatively, fellow artists, allies in the endeavor and experimentation involved in bringing a character to life. He also understood that the role of Mma Ramotswe was an incredibly unique and special part, and how deeply meaningful it was to those in consideration. Actors were so appreciative and touched that at times tears flowed--not during the readings, but in speaking with Anthony about the role, the project, the magic of Africa, the business, life. I’ll never forget those sessions, and I will forever be grateful for my brief time in his presence.

Eddie Dunlop

Clare Maclean said...

I had the pleasure and honour to be asked to be Anthony’s post production supervisor for his last two films – ‘Breaking and Entering’ and ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’. I often joked with Ant that I only got the job as I was from Portsmouth and a fellow Pompey fan!

Within a few weeks of working at Mirage I felt like one of the family. As many friends and colleagues have written here, the feeling of working at Anthony’s office is of warmth, camaraderie and friendship and I have never been happier than working there, for Ant and Tim.

It was a pleasure to work so closely to the cutting room and hear Anthony’s laughter filtering through the building as he, Lisa and Katie would edit. There always seemed to be laughter – Anthony just made working for him such a joy; yes, it could be hard – what film isn’t hard work! – but, we would all do our utmost to make his vision a reality. He was always eager to hear your opinion; whether you were an executive, assistant, intern or runner.

Many times I would be sitting at my desk typing away and then (when I least expected it) a shadow would appear and I would be pounced on by Ant’s hands, giving me an unexpected shoulder massage. The usual result of this would be a “thanks Ant… that’s great” and as soon as he left your side, you would be wondering if you could ever turn your head properly again…. Boy, he had strong hands!

Ant was one for names and nicknames… My husband (Alex) became known as Mr Clare and, when his company did the titles for ‘No.1 Ladies’, I – in turn – became known as Mrs. Alex. During the sound mix for ‘Breaking and Entering’ (when I was 7 months pregnant), he would occasionally sit by me – hand on my belly – to feel the baby kicking, telling me (and anyone in the vicinity) that the baby would be called either “Breaking” or “Entering”………sorry Ant, but Oliver was a much better name!!

My favourite memory – and my last – of working with Ant was when we attended the TV mix of ‘No.1 Ladies’” at Realworld studios, in Somerset. Ant, Tim, Katie and I were driven back to our hotel by Branwen. Before getting in the car, Branwen had to remove her daughter’s car seat. Tim got in the front; Ant, Katie and myself squeezed into the back. Ant found himself where Ivy’s car seat had been and, strapped to the headrest of the seat in front of him was a child’s steering wheel complete with gears and horn. The journey back to the hotel was hysterical – I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. Anthony Minghella, Oscar winning screenwriter, director and chairman of the BFI took great delight in beeping the toy horn, changing gears, gesticulating at fellow drivers to “get orf the road” and “driving” us home with the toy steering wheel. I guess you had to be there, but it is a memory that still brings a smile to my lips….

Mine and Mr Clare’s thoughts are with Carolyn, Max, Hannah and also to Tim, Karen, Caroline and Nat at this difficult time.

Dear, dear Ant. Thank you for the brief time you entered my life and for the pleasure I had working with and for you. I will miss you terribly. You were and always will be my No.1 Director….

Fondest love and Pompey Chimes…always. your Clarey x

Stephen Gyllenhaal said...

“God bless.” Anthony so often said it as he walked out a door. Startling when I first heard it. After a dinner party, after a light hearted discussion or a serious one. “God bless.” A simple phrase, but somehow filled with such complexity when escaping his lips. Gentle, but firm, clear and yet messy in a wonderful, soft, human way. Anthony bridged so many worlds, moved through and captured so many enviorns in his too short life. I’m angry about it’s shortness. There was so much still to sort out - like after the dinner parties or after one of those discussions – so many swirling thoughts cut short because it was so often well past midnight, but he would settle the incompleteness with his final words, “God bless” and then he’d be gone.

Charlotte Macleod said...

Over the past few weeks I have shown my children Anthony’s films. Together we have played his haunting music, and read his plays.

This experience has made me sure, unequivocally, that his work, his words, his voice, his passion will be a lasting legacy for my children. And for all our children, and our children’s children.

But for those of us who were touched by him, who bathed in his warmth and generosity, heard his husky voice at the other end of the line, saw his emails lighting up our night, we know that Anthony meant more to us than all his work.

He blessed us with his humanity.

We struggle to make sense of what has happened, to explain to others our love for him and to capture his essence in words.

There are no terms to describe Anthony. Perhaps the Yiddesh word "mensch' comes closest for me.

Mensch literally means ‘a person’, but it also represents a moral ideal for mankind. It is the highest accolade.

A mensch is an honourable person, a decent person, a person who combines integrity with sensitivity.

To be a real mensch you must have heart.

Anthony had heart. In fact Ant was heart. Pure heart. And that is why we loved him.

And when I think of Anthony, I wonder why we do not have a similar word in the English language?

And if we were to decide upon our own term then surely we would all agree upon the word “MINGHELLA”.

The entry in the Oxford English Dictionary might read:

A person with heart, love, talent, courage, and integrity. A person with honour, nobility of spirit, goodness of heart. A person made completely of love. A person who made us complete with their love.

My heart is with Carolyn, Hannah, Max, Duncan and Tim, Karen, Caroline, Nat and all the Mirage Family.

Edie Ichioka said...

While working as Walter's assistant on The English Patient, I was lucky enough to share an office with Anthony.
Snippets of time that fly through my mind are: his happiness when his family was with him - Carolyn doing her Tai Chi on the deck of the film center and his kids fluttering around. Faxes from Juliette B. with illustrations that made him happily pause when things were hectic. Trays of tea that he brought to the rushed editorial crew before previews which made us feel guilty and grateful (shouldn't we bring YOU the tea?) His smarts and kindness created allies out of grumps and made everyone want to be a better person to deserve the love that he gave them.

Sophie Dow said...

House buying, Role casting and Children who are Special
Co-incidences, Patriotism and Annie

I first met Anthony when interviewing him about his second big film, Mr Wonderful, in 1993. Here was a film director who seemed as interested in my questions, as I was in his answers. Not something you experience that often. Fast forward to 1994 and Hampstead High St. Anthony and Max are looking at a house for sale. Having just decided to sell our house in South Hill Park, I walk up to Anthony and ask if he remembers me. (about a 50/50 chance I reckoned) -Of course I remember you Sophie, he says with idiosynchratic warmth and generosity.
Today I also know that he had a phenomenal memory, and that, when challenged by a waitress at dinner one evening in Edinburgh last year, he proved that he could remember 21 different orders, including various drinks, without writing anything down.
-Would you like to buy our house? I asked.
-Where is it? How big is it? And does it have a garden? Anthony responded
A week later, after Carolyn had given her approval, we had a deal.
The most harmonious of interactions followed, although I did my best to construct a reason for a daily phone call, just to hear his lovely velvet voice discuss the bike shed or the Scandinavian stove, or indeed to try and persuade him to cast a Swedish actress in the leading role of The English Patient. Interestingly and co- incidentally, Anthony had been interested in Lena Olin at some point (she was pregnant at the time) for a part in the film. Lena had stayed at our house in South Hill Park a couple of years earlier.
Fast forward yet again, this time to 2005, and a script comes through the post. Breaking and Entering – could I read and let him know what I thought. To my astonishment, the central character is a Swedish journalist who has a daughter with special needs. Or, as Anthony preferred to say, ‘ A child who is special’.

Our daughter Annie is mentally handicapped and is the inspiration behind my setting up of the organisation Mindroom.
And this was, I would like to think, Anthony’s way of contributing to our cause (to create greater awareness about learning difficulties).
Well, the really rather bad jokes about Sweden at our nations expense, had to go I said emphatically. And Liv Ullman is NOT Swedish (it took me 4 emails to convince him about that – gee he was stubborn).
I love Breaking and Entering of course. Such wonderful dialogue, perfect casting, great cinematography and wonderful evocative music beautifully intertwined with the lovingly captured Kings Cross neighbourhood.
The overall message of B & E - the importance of giving and getting a second chance in life, is the best of it all.

I am really glad to have known Anthony; such an elegant man. Both in intellect and in approach to life.

Lots of love and so many thoughts to Carolyn, Max, Hannah, Tim, Karen and all of you had the pleasure of living and working with Anthony,
Sophie and Robin Dow
Edinburgh April 2008

Anonymous said...

I first met Anthony in the late eighties, when I worked for Samuel Goldwyn Jr on the distribution of 'Truly, Madly, Deeply'. I was a lowly office junior, but Anthony was as interested in me as he was in all the Sr Vice Presidents of This and That. I went on to work on Mr Wonderful, and at the time, he sent me a copy of an early draft of The English Patient, with a note saying that he'd love to know what I thought. I had no experience of script reading, and was woefully out of my depth, but he was genuinely interested to hear what I thought. I still have the note to this day. Never having met Anthony, my mother once dropped him a line to tell him how much she had enjoyed Mr Wonderful. He wrote back to her - a hand written note. Anthony had time for everyone. He was a truly wonderful, thoughtful, poetic and funny man, who touched the lives of everyone who met him. I could watch every one of his films again and again and I feel desperately sad that there will be no more. People like Anthony restore our faith in human nature and I feel so privileged to have known him.
Caroline Henshaw
14 April 2008

lisa gunning said...

Anthony Minghella, my friend, my hero.

He called the cutting room 'the room of truth' and often said it was his favorite place to be. I had the great honour of spending some of the best moments of my life with him there over the last 10 years. In that room, wherever it was in the world, he gave me a precious, loving masterclass on the art of film making, but more than that, he taught me about life, love and ultimately how to be a better human being.
I'll treasure the time we spent in that 'room of truth' always and forever.

Anthony always made people feel like they were capable of much much more than they thought they were capable of. At the age of 31 and with no experience in features, he plucked me from the world of commercials to cut Breaking & Entering. I was not a safe bet. In fact, I secretly thought he was mad for asking me to do it! But he had faith in me. He saw something in me that I couldn't see. The very fact that Anthony believed in me made me believe in myself.
That's how he changed my life.

He taught me how to think, see, hear things differently. He moved me to tears, made me laugh hysterically, pushed me to my very limit. He taught me about diplomancy, generosity, humility, how to be 'open' to ideas even if they seemed crazy. He encouraged me to experiment, to work hard and then to work harder, to articulate myself, find beauty in things and to believe that anything is possible.

Someone said the other day 'Ant has all the answers now...' He spent his life fascinated by human emotion and excavated it in everything he did. He tried to find the answers and in the process made poetry in his work. I feel blessed to have collaborated so closely with him while he did this, to have had a window into his beautiful mind, his gorgeous soul.

Ant I'll miss you so very much xxxxxxxx

My heart goes out to Carolyn, Max, Hannah, all the family and the Mirage family.

Anonymous said...

Minghella, an angel snatched…
By Kgomotso Tshwenyego
It’s quite common to speak well of people who passed on but for Anthony Minghella it is not just talk. I am not one to talk about those who left us but I couldn’t resist writing about a man who made such a difference to everyone who knew him. It is over a week but I’m still thinking what to say. For the entire period of the shooting of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency I had the honour of working closely with Minghella. He was much more than just a Director, Scriptwriter and Producer, he was a friend and treated everyone on set like family. So many memories flood my mind but the most memorable was when I found myself face to face with Anthony when vying for the Dialect Coach in the movie. When the DVD containing my profile couldnt play, naturally I panicked. Some Producer/Director would have told me I wasn’t prepared and sent me off. Minghella didn’t. He smiled, looked me in the eye and said maybe it wants us to talk. I didn’t know who he was at the time and you can imagine the shock when later I learnt who he was.

Anthony was so amazingly warm and human and one thing I will always remember of him is the humility with which he conducted himself. I personally regard him as an angel which was sent to us as aspiring film makers to discover and make what some of us didn’t even think we could be. But then this angel was abruptly snatched from us. When the call announcing his death came to me, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions, first denial then shock, went numb and then I felt angry. I don’t know to whom exactly my anger was directed to. I got so angry that I became selfish. I was angry because I felt it was unfair on us for Minghella to pass on before he could continue the journey that he started with us. The truth is Minghella discovered us, paved the way therefore its up to us to continue the journey, to pull ourselves to where we must be.

He taught us, though not in so many ways, to build ourselves to become what we want to be. He taught us, without saying it, that hardwork, humility, love and most of all respect can make one succeed in what they do. It was easy for everyone who worked with him to welcome and be friends with him. He left me in stitches one morning when he came over, beaming as usual, singing a Setswana song. He said Batswana made him feel at home but what he didn’t realize was he made us feel we owned the movie. Anthony’s death is nothing but a loss to Botswana film industry.

My condolesces to his family, wife and children and to all film-makers. Gomotsegang Bagaetsho! (Be comforted)

Dante Minghella said...

My Superman

Can you miss a thing that never was?
Can you miss a stolen evening?
Can you miss an unseen smile?
Can you miss a sentence unsaid?

He was to me a book unwritten.
He was to me a train delayed.
He was to me advice untaken.
He was to me a missing piece.

All I have is snatched moments.
To marvel at what he did.
All I have is wistful yearning.
A keyhole view of a fleeting friend.

I saw in him a happy future.
A teacher of a lesson missed.
But all I have is tears and poems.
Regret for what I never had.

So now, he’s gone, my superman.
I always just assumed he’d stay.
I always just assumed I’d have time.
To know the magic man of stories.

He was like a place you plan to see.
But you never had the chance.
Before it was plucked.
By random misfortune.

So goodbye, my superman.
Hero I never knew.
All I have is fleeting memory.
I hope you miss me, too.

Julian Garforth said...

I was fortunate enough to work with Anthony on a Gala Evening, held in Reading Town Hall in April 2006 to celebrate the centenary of Samuel Beckett’s birth. At the time, I was in charge of the Beckett International Foundation’s Archive at the University of Reading – a job Anthony probably would have relished, had his career taken a different path. The evening comprised readings and performances by Jude Law, Rosamund Pike, Lee Evans, Felicity Kendal, Barry McGovern, Billie Whitelaw and Alan Rickman. It raised well over £20,000 for Macmillan Cancer Relief – a charity close to Anthony’s heart.

My overriding memory of that hectic period was an afternoon spent in Anthony’s studio in North London a few days prior to the event, putting together the programme for the evening. Anthony had just returned from a successful screening of 'Breaking and Entering' and was in buoyant mood. He and his team were famished and an impromptu pasta dish was rustled up. I expected to wait until Anthony had finished eating before discussing the Beckett project – but he invited me to join them for some food. After a few nervous moments trying to work out the etiquette for dining with an Oscar-winner(!), I joined the group – and immediately realised that my nervousness was completely unfounded. The conversation flowed freely and ranged from Beckett to cult television to obscure contemporary music that we both liked. Within minutes, I felt as if I was talking to someone I had known for years.

After the meal we got down to the serious business of planning the Gala Evening. Some choices for the readings were obvious; other ideas began almost as frivolous suggestions. Anthony’s love of Beckett’s work was evident and his knowledge just as broad as I imagine it was when he was working on his Ph.D many years earlier. I was concerned about a couple of our initial plans. But Anthony’s faith in the actors’ abilities and his own quiet confidence convinced me to trust his judgement. Of course, his intuition was right. Watching him draw out incredible performances from those actors the following Sunday, in just a few hours of rehearsal, was like sitting in on a masterclass. I will never forget that unique experience.

The last time I saw Anthony was a few months later, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Reading. By that stage, the funding for my post had run out and I had been made redundant. As I was no longer a member of the University’s staff, I was not invited to the formal celebration lunch prior to the graduation ceremony. On entering the hall for the ceremony, as soon as Anthony saw me, he immediately came over, greeted me warmly and asked why I hadn’t been at the lunch. In the middle of what was intended to be his special day, he was more concerned about me. I was deeply flattered, but not surprised, by his actions – because that was the kind of man he was. However well you knew him, he always made you feel that you were special to him.

After the ceremony, I met several members of Anthony’s immediate family. It was a wonderful occasion for all of them. I am sure they were just as proud of him on that day as they were when he received his first degree many years earlier. Anthony was as excited as any other graduate, delighted to be honoured by the University that was most closely associated with one of his heroes, Samuel Beckett.

When I first heard about Anthony’s death, I genuinely couldn’t believe it was true. How could this man who had so much energy, charisma and talent no longer be with us?

Anthony was a remarkable, unique person. He was a wonderfully gifted writer and director. He was a vibrant character with an immense love of all aspects of life. He was also one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever met. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. He will be missed.

My thoughts are with his family and with all at Mirage.

Julian Garforth