Cancer has claimed yet another talented filmmaker far too early in their life. Word broke in the early hours of Saturday that TV and film director Antonia Bird has died at the age of 54.
Kicking off her career at the Royal Court Theatre, Bird worked her way up from assistant level to directing before making the jump to television with BBC stalwarts EastEnders and Casualty. Those regular gigs led to other jobs including Thin Air and The Men’s Room, adapted from Ann Oakley’s novel.
Longer form projects included the acclaimed Safe, which tackled homelessness and scored her a Best First Feature Award at the Edinburgh Television Festival and a BAFTA for Best Single drama. She followed that up with 1994’s Priest which, originally designed solely as a TV movie, was handed a theatrical release and warmly received despite its controversial stance on the Catholic Church. Both projects featured actor Robert Carlyle, who would go on to become a regular collaborator and friend, and who tweeted “Such a sad day today. RIP Antonia Bird. Farewell my beautiful friend,” upon hearing the news of her death.
Bird hit Hollywood with the likes of Mad Love (pictured above with Drew Barrymore) and found cult success – if not big box office returns – with cannibal drama Ravenous. More recently, she returned to TV for the Cracker TV movie, episodes of Spooks and The Village, which hit the airwaves this spring.
“From a writer’s point of view she was wonderful because she listened so hard to the script,” The Village’s Peter Moffat tells Deadline. “If she didn’t understand what you were after she’d talk to you until she did and if she didn’t agree with it you’d bash it through until you were both happy. You absolutely knew that she’d put what you’d both agreed on the screen. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and it doesn’t work if the writer and director don’t trust each other. I trusted Antonia completely. Completely devastated that she’s gone.” So say all of us.