Here's what the entertainment world will miss about the beloved film producer

Kazuo Ishiguro remembers Ismail Merchant

DEC. 25, 1936-MAY 25, 2005

Since I met him in 1992 during the making of The Remains of the Day [adapted from Ishiguro’s novel], Ismail Merchant had become a close friend, often cooking dinner for my wife and me in his London apartment. He made himself the center of a large international circle of friends, relations, actors, technicians, cameramen, and writers. Of course, he was passionate about his films, but I always sensed that he made them in order to keep activated the relationships — the bonds of work and friendship and love — within this Merchant Ivory family. He was warm, effusive, but much more introspective and sensitive than people might guess from his showman exterior. It hurt him if a film received unfavorable notices or an actor or cameraman became disgruntled and left the fold. His last project as producer, The White Countess, was an ambitious one: The three-month shoot in China was beset by many difficulties — political, cultural, financial — and he told me he’d never been so stressed-out in his entire career. He was proud of the picture, busy working on it to the end. It’s very sad that he won’t see the completed film. (Merchant died of complications from an ulcer in London.)