London — Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who turned such literary works as "The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and "Cold Mountain" into acclaimed movies, died Tuesday of a hemorrhage following surgery. He was 54.
Minghella's publicist, Jonathan Rutter, said the filmmaker died at London's Charing Cross Hospital. He said Minghella was operated on last week for a growth in his neck, "and the operation seemed to have gone well. At 5 a.m. today he had a fatal hemorrhage."
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who became friends with Minghella after the filmmaker directed a Labour Party election ad in 2005, said he was "really shocked and very sad."
"Anthony Minghella was a wonderful human being, creative and brilliant, but still humble, gentle and a joy to be with," Blair said. "Whatever I did with him, personally or professionally, left me with complete admiration for him, as a character and as an artist of the highest caliber."
Jude Law, who starred in Minghella's "Cold Mountain," "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and 2007's "Breaking and Entering," said he had "come to value him more as a friend than as a colleague."
"He was a brilliantly talented writer and director who wrote dialogue that was a joy to speak and then put it onto the screen in a way that always looked effortless. He made work feel like fun. He was a sweet, warm, bright and funny man who was interested in everything from football to opera, films, music, literature, people and most of all his family."
The 1996 World War II drama "The English Patient" won nine Academy Awards, including best picture, best director for Minghella and best supporting actress for Juliette Binoche. Based on the celebrated novel by Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, the movie tells of a burn victim's tortured recollections of his misdeeds in time of war.
Among his other films were "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (1990), and last year's Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton," on which he was executive producer.