The 2017 documentary film “Filmworker” highlighted Vitaly’s tremendous and largely unsung contribution to the work of one of cinema’s greatest figures.
LOS ANGELES — Leon Vitali, the “Barry Lyndon” actor who became one of Stanley Kubrick’s closest associates, has died. He was 74 years old.
Vitali died Friday in Los Angeles, his family told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Although Vitali was often described as Kubrick’s assistant, Tony Zera’s 2017 documentary “Film workerFrom “The Shining” through “Eyes Wide Shut” highlights Vitali’s tremendous and largely unsung contribution to the work of one of cinema’s greatest figures. He did everything from casting and coaching the actors to supervising the rehabilitation. Vitaly even once set up a video monitor so Kubrick could keep an eye on his dying cat.
Matthew Modine, who starred in Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” tweeted his condolences on Sunday.
“There are people we meet who have a profound effect on our lives. Leon Vitali was one such person for me,” Modine wrote. “An artist in every aspect of his life. A loving father and friend to many. A kind, generous and forgiving nature. He set an example and showed grace.”
Filmmaker Lee Ankrich also tweeted that he was completely heartbroken to hear about Leon Vitali’s passing. A sweet, kind, humble, generous man and an important part of Stanley Kubrick’s team.
Before meeting Kubrick, Vitaly was a rising actor in England, appearing in several British television shows including “Safly, Tenderly,” “Folly Feet,” “Z Cars” and “Notorious Woman.” Then in 1974 he got his biggest break of all time, when he was cast in “Barry Lyndon” as Lord Bullingdon, stepfather to Ryan O’Neill’s title character.
Vitaly was so impressed by Kubrick and his process that he made an unusual decision: he gave up acting and devoted himself entirely to the famous director for more than two decades. His next Kubrick credit was as a “personal assistant to the director” on “The Shining,” though that’s only part of the story — Vitali famously played 4-year-old Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance and Louise and Lisa Burns as creepy characters. Helped to pay. The Grady Twins (citing Diane Arbus as an inspiration).
“I made a real, really fundamental change in my life and that was when I said, ‘I’m more interested in acting,'” Vitali told The Associated Press in 2017. This is the biggest conscious decision. I have ever made There were some sacrifices, but there were also benefits.
After Kubrick’s death in 1999, Vitali oversaw the restoration of many of Kubrick’s films. He received a Cinema Audio Society Award for his work. He later worked with director Todd Field in his films “Little Children” and “In the Bedroom”.
Vitaly died surrounded by his loved ones, including his three children Masha, Max and Vera.
“Leon was a special and lovable man because of his curiosity, who spread love and warmth wherever he went,” his children said in a statement provided by Masha Vitali. “He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by the many he touched.”
Before making the documentary, Zira said he and many Kubrick fanatics knew Vitaly for his performances in “Barry Lindon” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” in which he played Red Cloak. , and as a key member of Kubrick’s inner circle. But when he finally met Vitali to make the film, he was struck by “her kindness, humility and the fascinating breadth of her story.”
Zira is working on a director’s “film worker’s” cut that will include new footage that she and Vitaly wanted in the film, but couldn’t in time for the 2017 Cannes debut.