Leon Vitali, star of two acclaimed Stanley Kubrick films and the iconic director’s right-hand man, has died aged 74.
Vitali’s cause of death has not been disclosed. His death was announced on Kubrick’s social media platforms.
“These announcements are never easy, but this one hit us especially hard this morning,” Kubrick’s account posted on instagram. “It is with the greatest sadness that we have to announce that the talented, loyal and mainstay of many Kubrick films, Leon Vitali, passed away peacefully last night. Our thoughts are with his family and all those who knew and loved him. We will honor Leon all day to honor him.
While playing Lord Bullingdon in “Barry Lyndon” in 1975, Vitali became so enamored with Kubrick’s work that he gave up acting and served as the director’s personal assistant for over two years. decades, according to the Associated Press.
Vitali was widely mourned as Kubrick’s behind-the-scenes collaborator, responsible for casting the kids who helped make “The Shining” a 1988 horror classic — 4-year-old Danny Torrance and twins Louise and Lisa, 10 years old. Burn like the creepy Grady twins.
“There are people we meet who have a profound impact on our lives. Leon Vitali was one of those people in mine,” tweeted Matthew Modine, who starred in Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” “An artist in all aspects of his life. A loving father and friend to so many. A kind, generous and indulgent nature. He exemplified and personified grace.
Vitali was playing in England when he was cast as Lord Bullingdon in ‘Barry Lyndon’, playing the son-in-law of lead character Ryan O’Neal.
“I made a really, really drastic change in my life, and that’s when I said, ‘I’m more interested in this’ than I was in the game,” Vitali told The Daily Mail. ‘Associated Press in 2017 about his move to Kubrick’s assistant. . “It’s the biggest conscious decision I’ve ever made. There have been sacrifices, but there have also been gains.
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Vitali’s acting career with Kubrick ended with his portrayal of masked cult leader Red Cloak in “Eyes Wide Shut,” which also starred Tom Cruise. In fact, it was Vitali’s responsibility to call Cruise at 3 a.m. to tell him that Kubrick had died at age 70 in 1999, according to People.
After Kubrick’s death, Vitali then oversaw the restoration of the director’s films. He was also the subject of a documentary, “Filmworker”, relating
“Leon Vitali was the heart of Kubrick’s films after the master himself,” Kubrick’s account wrote.
Beyond Kubrick’s work, Vitali went on to star in other films, including the 2013 version of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Married and divorced three times, Vitali is survived by three children.
“Leon was a special, charming man, driven by his curiosity, who spread love and warmth wherever he went,” they said in a statement to AP. “He will be remembered with love and will be sadly missed by the many people he touched.”
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