General News

Ismail Merchant Dies

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May 27, 2005 | 1:12pm EDT

Veteran movie producer Ismail Merchant died in a London hospital May 25. He was 68.

Film-maker Merchant, who alongside longtime partner/director James Ivory formed Merchant Ivory in 1961, is best known for producing critically acclaimed period drama films including Howards End and The Remains of the Day.

It currently remains unclear why Merchant passed away, but he had been suffering from stomach problems over the last year.

Producer David Puttnam says, "He was an extraordinary talent. What's gone is a major character and a unique film producer--someone who completely defined independence in the film industry."

Merchant was nominated for four Oscars, while his production company, Merchant Ivory, won six Oscars.

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A galaxy of stars, including Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Fiennes, have paid emotional tributes to the veteran movie producer.

Hopkins and Fiennes are devastated by the film entrepreneur's death, and credit him with inspiring them to approach movies in a more inventive and passionate way.

Hopkins, who starred in Howards End and The Remains of the Day, says, "I'm deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Ismail Merchant. He was the one and truly great maverick producer, a law to himself.

"He could charm the birds out of the trees, which had its very positive side and sometimes he could get you to work for nothing."

Fiennes says of his time shooting Merchant's latest movie The White Countess, "Having just finished working with Ismail and James Ivory in Shanghai, I was full of admiration for their passion and commitment to the film we were making. There was no one like him."

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