A galaxy of stars, including SIR Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Fiennes, have paid emotional tributes to veteran movie producer Ismail Merchant, who died from a stomach-related illness yesterday (25MAY05) at the age of 68.

Merchant garnered critical acclaim for OSCAR-winning period films like Howards End and The Remains of the Day, which he made with long-term MERCHANT IVORY partner James Ivory.

Hopkins and Fiennes are devastated by the film entrepreneur's death, and credit him with inspiring them to approach movies in a more inventive and passionate way.

Hopkins, who starred in Howards End and Remains of the Day, says, "I'm deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Ismail Merchant. He was the one and truly great maverick producer, a law to himself.

"He could charm the birds out of the trees, which had its very positive side and sometimes he could get you to work for nothing."

Fiennes says of his time shooting Merchant's latest movie THE WHITE COUNTESS, "Having just finished working with Ismail and James Ivory in Shanghai, I was full of admiration for their passion and commitment to the film we were making. There was no one like him."

26/05/2005 14:07