Leon Vitalic — Stanley Kubrick‘s longtime assistant and collaborator in cinema for decades — has passed away.
The late director’s verified social media accounts confirmed Vitali’s death Sunday… writing, “It is with the greatest sadness that we must inform you that the mainstay of many of Kubrick’s films, Leon Vitali, passed away peacefully last night. Our thoughts are with his family and all that new and loved him.” No other details were offered.
Kubrick’s account goes on to praise Vitali…and points to his behind-the-scenes work with his film master, but also points to the roles he played in front of the camera as an actor – including as one of the lead actors for SK’s period drama ‘Barry Lyndon’ from 1975.
The post also notes this…“Whether giving the performance of his life as Lord Bullingdon, portraying the ominous Red Cloak, providing BTS technical support on FMJ, and attending the 4K release of The Shining at the Cannes Film Festival, Leon Vitali was the heartbeat of Kubrick’s films to the master himself.” So yes, he is very important in the Kubrick universe.
As is well documented, the man was hopelessly devoted to Stanley… took on the challenging role of becoming his effective right-hand man and enforcer on movie sets, including for films like ‘The Shining’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and Kubrick’s last film. , ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.
He is credited as “director’s assistant” in every film and was even the CD in the last 2 films. But Vitali’s involvement in these films went far beyond his titles – he literally ran around the set alongside Kubrick, making sure his boss’s vision came to life.
Kubrick was, of course, notorious for his grueling shoots… he did dozens of takes of a particular scene and demanded absolute perfection from his cast and crew – which also applied to Vitali. Still, he hung on tight and remained faithful through the years until SK’s own death.
Much of Vitali’s journey with Kubrick was chronicled in the 2017 documentary ‘Filmworker’, which was cleared up at a ton of festivals after its release… .
As many of the actors who have worked on Kubrick sets point out… Vitali was involved in just about every step of the production process, often serving as an acting coach for iconic characters and scenes.
He wasn’t alone behind the camera, though — Vitali has quite a few acting credits to his name…including in films like 2013, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Little Children’, ‘Inter Rail’, ‘Terror’ by Frankenstein” and a lot of TV shows and sitcoms from the 1970s.
Vitali even played Red Cloak in ‘EWS’ – the leader of the sex-crazed cult that Tom Cruise infiltrates. He leaves behind his wife and his children… Vitali was 74.