Oscar and Tony nominated writer-director Douglas McGrath dies aged 64

The multi-hyphenate was known for directing 1996’s Emma, co-writing Bullets Over Broadway and writing the book for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Writer, director and actor Douglas McGrath has died at the age of 64.

The Tony and Oscar nominee had been recently starring in the autobiographical off-Broadway show Everything’s Fine that he had also written. His death on 3 November was announced by the show’s producers Daryl Roth, Tom Werner and John Lithgow, who was also directing.

“The company of Everything’s Fine was honored to have presented his solo autobiographical show,” the statement reads. “Everyone who worked with him over the last three months of production was struck by his grace, charm and droll sense of humor, and sends deepest condolences to his family.”

The final performance was on 2 November. The one-man show about a dark incident in McGrath’s teenage years had received strong reviews. Writing for the New York Times, Elisabeth Vincentelli had praised its “can’t-look-away quality of a slow-motion crash” claiming that “you might be appalled but laughing, eager to hear what happened next while also dreading it.” Vincentelli has since tweeted that his death was “a sudden, terrible shock”.

No details about the cause of death have been announced.

McGrath began his career writing for Saturday Night Live in 1980. He later received an Oscar nomination in 1995 for co-writing the screenplay for Bullets Over Broadway working with Woody Allen. He also made appearances as an actor in several of Allen’s movies including Celebrity, Small Time Crooks and Café Society.

He also acted as writer and director for the 1996 adaptation of Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, 2002’s adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby, starring Charlie Hunnam and the Truman Capote drama Infamous in 2006, starring Toby Jones.

McGrath received a Tony nomination for writing the book for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. Writing for the Guardian in 2018, McGrath praised King for never asking him “to soften or improve the events of her life”. His other credits as playwright included Checkers and The Age of Innocence.

As an actor on screen, McGrath was also in Quiz Show, Todd Solondz’s Happiness, 2007’s Michael Clayton and in multiple episodes of HBO’s Girls as Principal Toby Cook. Jenni Konner, who was the co-showrunner and one of the writers and directors for Girls tweeted: “We had the best time with him on Girls. Such a massive talent. Such a nice man. RIP.”

He is survived by wife Jane Read Martin and son Henry McGrath.


Benjamin Lee

The GuardianTramp

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