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Nicolas Roeg, director of 'The Witches' and 'Don't Look Now,' dead at 90

Roeg worked with Mick Jagger and David Bowie over a six-decade career in film making.
Image: Nicolas Roeg
Director Nicholas Roeg arrives at the Puffball Premier at the Empire Leicester Square on July 17, 2008 in London, England.Chris Jackson / Getty Images

LONDON — Nicolas Roeg, the prominent British film director known for making provocative films and working with rock stars Mick Jagger and David Bowie over a six-decade career, has died. He was 90.

The director of "Don't Look Now" and many other films died Friday night, his son, Nicolas Roeg Jr., told Britain's Press Association.

"He was a genuine dad," Roeg Jr. said. "He just had his 90th birthday in August."

He didn't provide details about his father's death during a brief telephone call.

Roeg worked with Jagger in "Performance" and Bowie in "The Man Who Fell to Earth." Bowie played an alien who crashes on Earth looking for a way to save his own planet.

Roeg's "Don't Look Now" in 1973 is regarded as one of his most outstanding successes. It is also remembered for the realistic sex scene between stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland.

Roeg's last major film was "The Witches," in 1990, which starred Anjelica Huston.

He worked his way into directing after winning acclaim as a cinematographer. He began his career as an editing apprentice in 1947 — among his duties was serving tea.

He said he couldn't understand how someone could become a director without first working in cinematography.

Roeg didn't believe in meticulous planning when it came to scripts and shooting schedules, preferring to give himself room to maneuver and improvise as needed. He was fond of saying that God laughed at people who made too many elaborate plans.

"I shoot a lot of stuff," he once said in an interview for the book "Talking Movies." ''I think that's probably come from not having gone to film school. Things work themselves out. You've lost the showmanship thing, the fairground barker, come-see-what's-inside aspect of filmmaking when you try to plan everything for the audience."

Roeg, who was born in London, worked on several famous films including "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Fahrenheit 451" before he entered the directing ranks in 1970.

The British Film Institute has named "Don't Look Now" and "Performance" as two of the greatest films in Britain's Top 100 film poll.

Roeg was married three times and had six children.