British comedian Mel Smith, who directed The Tall Guy and the first Mr Bean movie, has died.
The comic actor and writer was best known in the UK for his work on sketch shows Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O’Clock News. His agent confirmed he died at his home in London on Friday [July 19] of a heart attack.
His comedy partner was Griff Rhys Jones with whom he set up independent television company Talkback Productions in 1981. The company, which was sold to Pearson for £62m in 2000, produced series such as Da Ali G Show, I’m Alan Partridge and The Apprentice.
After taking roles in movies including National Lampoon’s European Vacation and The Princess Bride, Smith made his feature directorial debut in 1989 with The Tall Guy. The romantic comedy also marked the screenwriting debut of Richard Curtis and starred Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson.
Smith next directed Radioland Murders, a 1994 comedy mystery film co-written and produced by George Lucas, which performed less well at the box office.
However, his 1997 film Bean, based on the comedy character created by Atkinson and Curtis, was a smash and made more than $250m.
He went on to direct action comedy High Heels and Low Lifes in 2001 and his final film was sports comedy Blackball in 2003.
Writing on Twitter, comedian Stephen Fry said: “Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead today from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life, but was kind, funny and wonderful to know.”