Anthony Minghella, who directed Best Picture winner The English Patient, has died in London at the age of 54. According to the Associated Press, Minghella had surgery performed at the Charing Cross Hospital for a growth on his neck last week. Minghella's publicist, Jonathan Rutter, said, "the operation seemed to have gone well. At 5 a.m. today he had a fatal hemorrhage."

The England native rose to success with his internationally-acclaimed film The English Patient in 1996, which won nine Academy Awards including one for Best Picture and another for Minghella's direction. Since then he's gone on to make the critical successes The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain and he also served as the executive producer on last year's Best Picture nominee Michael Clayton.

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The filmmaker had become close with former British prime minister Tony Blair, who 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."

Minghella had recently completed The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which will serve as the pilot for an HBO TV series based on a 13-book series from Alexander McCall Smith. The film will air on British television this week.

Anthony Minghella is survived by his son, actor Max Minghella and his daughter Hannah.