Assheton Gorton, Oscar Nominee for 'The French Lieutenant's Woman,' Dies at 84

United Artists/Courtesy of Everett Collection
Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep in 'The French Lieutenant’s Woman.'

The respected English production designer and art director also worked on 'Blow-Up', 'Get Carter' and two 'Dalmatians' films

Assheton Gorton, the Oscar-nominated and avant-garde English production designer and art director who worked on Blow-Up, Get Carter and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, has died. He was 84.

Gorton died peacefully in his sleep Sept. 14 in the Churchstoke valley on the Wales-England border after battling a heart condition in recent years, his daughter Sophie told the Shropshire Star.

Gorton received Oscar and BAFTA nominations for French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), which was directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by Harold Pinter. In the lush drama, Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons play two sets of couples — one romantically involved in the 19th century, the other having a affair while portraying the first couple in a modern-day movie.

Gorton’s film career got off to an impressive start when he served as art director on two films set in the “Swinging London” of the 1960s: the Richard Lester comedy The Knack … and How to Get It (1965) and the Michelangelo Antonioni mystery thriller Blow-Up (1966), for which he collected his first BAFTA nom.

Gorton served as production designer on 101 Dalmatians (1996) and its 2000 sequel, where his challenges included working with puppies and fake snow, which needed to be disinfected to protect the animals.

His résumé also includes Lester’s The Bed Sitting Room (1969), starring Peter Cook; The Magic Christian (1969), with Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr; Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985), starring Tom Cruise; Revolution (1985), with Al Pacino; For the Boys (1991), starring Bette Midler; Rob Roy (1995), with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange; and Shadow of the Vampire (2000), starring John Malkovich.

Gorton studied architecture and art at the University of Cambridge and Slade School of Fine Art, then designed productions for the ITV anthology series Armchair Theatre before making his movie entrance.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife Gayatri, sons Steve and Barnaby and seven grandchildren.

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