Birthday: July 26, 1948
Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Alfred Filibert Leon Vitali
Born Country: England
Born in: Royal Leamington Spa, United Kingdom
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Sharon Messer (m. 2005)
children: Masha Vitali, Max Vitali, Vera Vitali
education: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Who is Leon Vitali?
Alfred Filibert Leon Vitali is an English actor best known for his role in the film ‘Barry Lyndon’. He gained recognition for his long association with film director Stanley Kubrick, for whom he worked as a personal assistant. He also appeared in several films by the acclaimed filmmaker. A native of Warwickshire, Vitali was trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He made his debut in an episode of the BBC police-based drama series ‘Softly Softly: Task Force’ in 1970. In the next few years, he guest-starred in several other shows and had a recurring role in the ITV sitcom ‘The Fenn Street Gang’. His big-screen debut came in 1973 in the British-Italian film ‘Mafia Junction’. It was in 1974 that he met Kubrick for the first time, and they subsequently formed a professional relationship that endured for the rest of Kubrick’s career. He portrayed Lord Bullingdon in Kubrick’s 1975 period drama film ‘Barry Lyndon’. Vitali assisted Kubrick in three of his most important films, ‘The Shining’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’, and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. He worked with filmmaker Todd Field on ‘In the Bedroom’ and ‘Little Children’.
Leon Vitali had his screen debut in 1970 in the second-season episode ‘Safe in the Streets?’ of the BBC drama series ‘Softly Softly: Task Force’, portraying the role of Henry Mardsley. In the same year, he also guest-starred in an episode of the BBC Two drama series ‘Roads to Freedom’. In 1971, he appeared in six different TV shows, ‘Z Cars’, ‘Long Voyage out of War’, ‘Hadleigh’, ‘Public Eye’, ‘Justice’, and ‘Please Sir’. Between 1971 and 1972, he played Peter Craven in 16 episodes of the ITV sitcom ‘The Fenn Street Gang’.
He began 1973 by appearing as Jack Truscott in an episode of the NBC anthology series ‘Love Story’. Later that year, he made his first cinematic appearance in writer-director Massimo Dallamano’s action crime-drama film ‘Mafia Junction’. He also acted in two episodes of the ITV courtroom drama series ‘Crown Court’ between 1972 and 1973 and was cast as Brother Donald in the 1973 drama film ‘Conflict’ (also known as Catholics).
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Association with Stanley Kubrick
Vitali and Kubrick met in 1974 and forged a professional bond that lasted the rest of Kubrick’s career. Vitali gave an audition for Kubrick’s 1975 film ‘Barry Lyndon’ and was cast as Lord Bullingdon, the titular character's stepson. During the filming, he and Kubrick connected. After the shooting was completed, Vitali requested Kubrick to let him stay, without pay, so he could watch the editing process. Kubrick allowed this. Five years later, Kubrick mailed him a copy of Stephen King's ‘The Shining’. He wanted to know if Vitali would be part of the production of his next film based on the book, an offer that Vitality readily accepted. He was mentioned as "personal assistant to director" in the credits of ‘The Shining’.
He worked under Kubrick once more on ‘Full Metal Jacket’ (1987) as the casting director and assistant to the director. In 1999, he received the same credits in what became Kubrick’s final film, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. Vitali also appeared in the movie, portraying the role of the Red Cloak.
Leon Vitali has played various roles on both films and television throughout his career. In 1974, he appeared in the television miniseries ‘Notorious Woman’, in which he was cast as Jules Sandeau. He essayed the role of Victor Frankenstein in the Swedish-Irish sci-fi horror film ‘Terror of Frankenstein’. In 1981, he worked in another Swedish film, writer-director Birgitta Svensson’s ‘Inter Rail’. He co-wrote and was the assistant director of the 1985 telefilm ‘Den tragiska historien om Hamlet - Prins av Danmark’, the Swedish adaptation of the Shakespearean play ‘Hamlet’.
Vitali and filmmaker Todd Field had previously worked together in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’. In 1999, they started talking about the possibility of collaborating again. He served as a technical consultant on Field's ‘In the Bedroom’ (2001) and associate producer on Field's ‘Little Children’ (2006). In the latter film, he also made his return to the big screen as the character “The Oddly Familiar Man”. In 2013, he was cast as the apothecary in Carlo Carlei’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’.
Family & Personal Life
Born on July 26, 1948, in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England, Leon Vitali received his training at the LAMDA.
Vitali was once married to costume designer Kersti Gustafsson, whom he met on the set of ‘Terror of Frankenstein’ (1977). They also served together as costume designers on Birgitta Svensson's ‘Mackan’. They have three children together, daughters Vera and Masha, and son Max. Both Vera and Max are actors.
On May 18, 2005, Vitali exchanged wedding vows with Sharon Masser.
In 2017, a documentary on his life and work, titled ‘Filmworker’, was released. Directed by Tony Zierra, the film explores Vitali’s relationship with Kubrick. It was shown at the London Film Festival in October 2017 and aired by Film4 in UK on March 7, 2019, followed by the broadcast of Kubrick's ‘The Killing’ (1956).