British Producer Tim Hampton Dies at 65

Tim Hampton
Tim Hampton
 

LONDON – British movie producer Tim Hampton, whose resume boasts stints at 20th Century Fox and also as producer of Ridley Scott’s 1985 fantasy adventure Legend starring Tom Cruise, has died. He was 65.

The movie industry stalwart died peacefully March 11, surrounded by his family.

With a background in theater, television and commercials, Hampton began his career as a runner and progressed to working -- as both a studio executive and producer -- with directors including George Lucas, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Roman Polanski, Richard Donner, Hugh Hudson, Wolfgang Petersen, Terry Gilliam and Nic Roeg.

Said Peter Medak, the Hungarian-British director for whom Hampton produced several films in addition to the background footage for Pink Floyd’s revolutionary Dark Side of the Moon world tour: "When I think of Tim he just brings smiles into my heart. We all loved him and will love him forever."

In the early 1970s, Hampton worked as a production or location manager on movies such as Gregory Peck starrer The Most Dangerous Man in the World; A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, starring Alan Bates and Janet Suzman; The Ruling Class, with Peter O’Toole; Don’t Look Now, with Donald Sutherland; and The Marseilles Contract with Michael Caine.

Subsequently, he spent 18 months as line producer on the development of Bond producer Harry Saltzman's shrunken-man project The Micronauts.

Hampton worked from 1977-79 as production supervisor in the U.S. and France on Superman and Superman II, as associate producer on Monty Python's Life of Brian and also spent time developing projects with Hemdale Film Corp. in the U.S. and Mexico.

Terry Jones described Hampton as being "so fresh in my mind, so lively and so concerned and so capable," while fellow former Python Michael Palin said: "I have very fond memories of Tim. He kept a remarkably cool head amongst all the madness, and he was damn good at his job too. … All the Pythons liked and respected him."

John Quested, chairman of The Goldcrest Group noted: "When, at Hemdale, we had no money to complete the picture, he would turn to me with the slightest smile and say, 'John, it will only get better.' Always loyal and sorely missed."

In 1979, he was approached by Richard Berger to take up the role of managing director at 20th Century Fox Productions, during which time he was closely involved with the production of The Empire Strikes Back, Chariots of Fire, Omen: Final Conflict and Quest for Fire.

In 1983, Hampton produced Legend, starring Cruise, a production that would be additionally notable for burning to the ground the original Ken Adam-designed 007 stage at Pinewood Studios.

Paul Higginson, executive vp at Twentieth Century Fox, said: "With great friends we may seldom see them but always carry them in our hearts and minds. Tim was one such friend. Tim was always calm, even when the 007 stage burned down, taking the Legend set with it. Most of all I loved his wicked, irreverent and endearing sense of humor."

Hampton returned to Fox as vp worldwide production, overseeing titles including Aliens, The Jewel of the Nile and Enemy Mine.

In 1987, Hampton collaborated with Polanski on his Hitchcock-inspired Paris-set thriller Frantic and subsequently produced A Dry White Season with Marlon Brando, before then continuing his relationship with Fox, acting as production consultant on movies being shot in Europe including Shining Through with Michael Douglas.

"Desperately sad news," Polanski said. "Tim’s warm personality, humor and just outstanding professionalism made him a joy to work alongside… we’ll all miss him."

From 1992-94 he worked as president of production at Cine Vox Entertainment. Splitting his time between Los Angeles and London, he oversaw all of the company’s development and production activities, including two episodes of the NeverEnding Story fantasy and The Adventures of Pinocchio.

New Line’s $80 million reinvention of the Lost in Space franchise starring William Hurt, Gary Oldman and Heather Graham was Hampton's last production. 

David Korda, co-managing director Film Finances, said: "I shall always think of Tim with love and affection. It was a privilege to have him as a friend."

He is survived by his wife Anna; sons, Matthew, Piers and Tom from his first marriage to Sally; and grandson William.

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