The ‘Barry Lyndon’ actor Leon Vitali has passed away at the age of 74
Leon Vitali, who played Barry Lyndon in “Barry Lyndon” has died. 74-year-old
Vitali died Friday in Los Angeles, according to his relatives. Masha, Max, and Vera were with him.
“Leon was a special and lovely man driven by his curiosity, who spread love and warmth wherever he went,” his children said.
Tony Zierra’s 2017 documentary “Filmworker” focused light on Vitali’s unheralded contributions to Kubrick’s work from “The Shining” to “Eyes Wide Shut.” He cast, coached, and oversaw restorations. Vitali set up a monitor so Kubrick could watch his dying kitten.
Matthew Modine tweeted his condolences on Sunday.
“There are people we meet who have a profound impact upon our lives. Leon Vitali was one such person in mine,” Modine wrote. “An artist in every aspect of his life. A loving father & friend to so many. A kind, generous & forgiving nature. He exemplified & personified grace.”
Filmmaker Lee Unkrich tweeted he was “Completely heartbroken to hear about the passing of Leon Vitali. He helped me enormously with my Shining book and I’m gutted that he won’t see it. He was a sweet, kind, humble, generous man and a vital part of Stanley Kubrick’s team.”
Before Kubrick, Vitali was a rising actor in England, acting in “Softly, Softly,” “Follyfoot,” “Z Cars” and “Notorious Woman.” Then, in 1974, he was cast in “Barry Lyndon” as Lord Bullingdon, Ryan O’Neal’s son-in-law.
Vitali was so enthralled by Kubrick’s approach that he quit acting and devoted himself to the exacting filmmaker for more than two decades. His second Kubrick role was as “personal assistant to the director” on “The Shining,” He famously helped cast 4-year-old Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance and Louise and Lisa Burns as the Grady twins (citing Diane Arbus as inspiration).
“I made one truly, truly radical change in my life and that was when I said, ‘I’m more interested in that’ than I was in the acting,” Vitali told AP in 2017. “It is the biggest decision I have made. There were losses and benefits.”
After Kubrick’s death in 1999, Vitali restored his films. He won a Cinema Audio Society Award. Vitali later acted in “Little Children” and “In the Bedroom.”
Zierra is working on a director’s cut of “Filmworker” that will feature new footage he and Vitali wanted in the film but could not get in time for its 2017 Cannes release.