Stanley Kubrick Associate Leon Vitali’s Passing at 74
The long-time collaborator with film director Stanley Kubrick, Leon Vitali, passed away on August 20, 2022. Leon Vitali’s death at the age of 74 was announced by the official Twitter account related to Kubrick.
“It is with the greatest of sadness that we have to tell you that the mainstay of a vast number of Kubrick’s films, Leon Vitali, passed away peacefully last night. Our thoughts are with his family and all that knew and loved him,” the Twitter post read.
Leon Vitali was born on July 26, 1948, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom. He attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Leon guest-starred in a number of TV series in the early 1970s, starring in Softly, Softly, Z Cars, Public Eye, Follyfoot, Roads to Freedom, The Fenn Street Gang, and Notorious Woman, among others.
The artist made his feature film debut in 1973 in two movies: the television film Catholics, alongside Michael Gambon and Martin Sheen, and the Italian Super Bitch, directed by Massimo Dallamano.
In 1974 he met Stanley Kubrick, with whom he had a proficient connection for the rest of his career. Leon played Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon, the title character’s stepson.
Leon and Vitali bonded during the shoot. As filming concluded, he asked Stanley if he could stay on, without pay, to observe the editing process, to which Stanley agreed.
Five years later, Kubrick sent Leon a copy of Stephen King’s The Shining and asked Leon to join the production of his next film. The late actor is credited in The Shining as “personal assistant to the director”.
In 1977 Vitali portrayed Victor Frankenstein in Terror of Frankenstein (1977), Calvin Floyd’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where Leon met his future wife Kersti, who worked as costume designer on the shoot.
He then worked as a costume designer in Birgitta Svensson’s Mackan. Leon and Kersti had two children, a son, videographer Max Vitali, and actress Vera Vitali.
The talented actor also had a daughter, producer Masha Vitali, from a previous marriage. Vitali and Kersti eventually divorced.
Leon teamed up with Kubrick again for Full Metal Jacket (1987), where he served both as an assistant to the director and casting director. Twelve years later, he was credited with the same titles in Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut, in which he also played Red Cloak.
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What Led to Leon Vitali’s Death at 74?
Leon Vitali’s death cause has not been announced at this time. His family also has not released a statement to reveal the cause of death. May he rest in peace.
After Kubrick’s passing Vitali oversaw the restoration of both picture and sound elements for most of Stanley Kubrick’s films. In 2004, he was honored with the Cinema Audio Society’s President’s Award for this work.
In 2017, he was the subject of a documentary, Filmworker, directed by American director Tony Zierra and produced by Elizabeth Yoffe.
The documentary premiered at The Cannes Film Festival and screened at many international film festivals including the London Film Festival in 2017.
Vitali worked with filmmaker Todd Field, with whom he starred in Eyes Wide Shut. The late actor is credited as “technical consultant” on Field’s In the Bedroom, and as “associate producer” on Field’s Little Children, where the star made a cameo appearance as “The Oddly Familiar Man”.
Leon also played the apothecary in Italian film director Carlo Carlei‘s Romeo & Juliet (2013).
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Reaction to Leon Vitali’s Death
After the sad news of Leon Vitali’s death was announced, his friends and fans flooded social media with tribute messages. Many fans took to Twitter to pay touching tributes to him.
One Twitter user said that Vitali’s role as Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon was so memorable but he gave up a promising acting career to work as Stanley Kubrick’s all-purpose assistant. The user added that Leon also cast actors & found Danny Lloyd to play Danny Torrance in The Shining.
Director of Pixar’s Coco and Toy Story 3 Lee Unkrich said that Vitali helped him enormously with his Shining book and he is gutted that Vitali won’t see it. He added that the actor was a sweet, humble, kind, generous man and a vital part of Stanley Kubrick’s team.
Greg Fantomas F. said that two of Vitali’s performances, as Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon and Red Cloak in Eyes Wide Shut, have never left him. Greg said that Vitali’s every purposeful inflection in EWS mesmerizes him still.
Lisa & Louise Burns who played The Grady girls in Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining said that they are very sad to hear that Vitali has passed away.
The twin added they often spoke of him, they have so many fond memories of him. “Chose us to play those creepy girls! & taught us to play chess. Thank you, Leon. Rest peacefully,” they wrote.
Another user said that Leon Vitali was crucial to Kubrick’s last four films of his career. The user added that Leon was loyal to Kubrick’s vision until his passing and celebrated the man for many years after.
Someone wrote that Leon Vitali was a great worker, a great actor and he loved cinema. He said that Vitali was a trustful collaborator for Stanley Kubrick and helped him to make his wonderful masterpieces.
Irish screenwriter Adam Murphy said that he can just imagine Vitali and Stanley together again watching movies in heaven! He then thanked the late actor for making Kubrick’s movies the masterpieces that they are.
A fan wrote on Twitter that Vitali was an incredible talent onscreen and behind the scenes, and also a crucial part of some of the greatest movies ever made. His fan said Vitali was hilarious, outspoken, and, incidentally a total sweetheart.