Leon Vitali, the Barry Lyndon actor who became one of Stanley Kubrick’s closest associates, has died at the age of 74.
itali died in Los Angeles on Friday, his family told The Associated Press.
Though Vitali has often been credited as Kubrick’s assistant, Tony Zierra’s 2017 documentary Filmworker sheds light on Vitali’s tremendous and largely unsung contributions to the work of one of cinema’s greatest figures in The Shining through Eyes Wide Shut.
He did everything from casting and coaching actors to overseeing restorations. At one point, Vitali even set up a video monitor so Kubrick could keep an eye on his dying cat.
Filmmaker Lee Unkrich tweeted: “Completely heartbroken to hear of the passing of Leon Vitali.
“He helped me tremendously with my Shining book and I’m disappointed that he doesn’t want to see it. He was a gracious, kind, humble, generous man and an important part of Stanley Kubrick’s team.”
Before meeting Kubrick, Vitali was an aspiring actor in England, appearing on several UK television shows including Softly, Softly, Follyfoot, Z Cars and Notorious Woman.
In 1974 he had his biggest break yet when he was cast in Barry Lyndon as Lord Bullingdon, the son-in-law of Ryan O’Neal’s title character.
Vitali was so fascinated by Kubrick and his trials that he made an unusual decision: he gave up acting and devoted himself to the famously demanding director for more than two decades.
His next Kubrick credit was as “personal assistant to the director” on The Shining, although that’s only part of the story – Vitali famously helped cast four-year-old Danny Lloyd to co-star Danny Torrance and Louise and Lisa Burns as the creepy Grady to play Gemini (citing Diane Arbus as inspiration).
“I made a really, really radical change in my life and that’s when I said, ‘I’m more interested in this’ than acting,” Vitali told the Associated Press in 2017.
“It’s the biggest conscious decision I’ve ever made. There have been some sacrifices, but there have also been gains.”
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After Kubrick’s death in 1999, Vitali oversaw the restoration of many of Kubrick’s films. He received an award from the Cinema Audio Society for his work.
Vitali later worked with director Todd Field on his films Little Children and In the Bedroom.
Before making the documentary, Zierra said he and many Kubrick-obsessed fans knew Vitali for his appearances in Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut, in which he played Red Cloak, and as a key member of Kubrick’s inner circle.
When they finally met Vitali to make the film, they were struck by “his kindness, humility, and the fascinating breadth of his story.”
Zierra is working on a director’s cut of Filmworker, which will include new footage he and Vitali wanted for the film but couldn’t finish in time for its Cannes debut in 2017.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/barry-lyndon-actor-and-kubrick-associate-leon-vitali-dies-aged-74-41926982.html Barry Lyndon actor and Kubrick partner Leon Vitali dies aged 74