The Barry Lyndon star who went on to become Kubrick’s right-hand man died at the age of 74.
According to The Associated Press, Leon Vitali, the actor who later became Stanley Kubrick’s right-hand man, died on Friday in Los Angeles. According to his family, he “died peacefully surrounded by loved ones,” including his children Masha, Max, and Vera. He was 74 years old at the time.
“Leon was a special and lovely man driven by his curiosity, who spread love and warmth wherever he went,” his children said in a statement provided to the AP by Masha Vitali. He will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by the many people he touched.”
In the 1970s, Vitali began his career as a television actor in the United Kingdom, appearing in shows such as The Fenn Street Gang and Notorious Woman. His most notable role came in 1975, when he played Lord Bullingdon opposite Ryan O’Neal in Kubrick’s film Barry Lyndon.
Vitali’s collaboration with Kubrick became his life’s defining collaboration. He largely retired from acting to work behind the scenes with Kubrick for the rest of his career. He was credited as “personal assistant to the director” in his next film, The Shining, but he was involved in many aspects of the filmmaking, including casting—according to the AP, he helped cast Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance and Louise and Lisa Burns as the creepy Grady twins. Vitali reprised his role as Red Cloak in Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
Tony Zierra’s 2017 documentary Filmworker shed light on the duo’s unusual relationship. “I’d work 14, 16 hour shifts, seven days a week,” he said of his commitment to the notoriously demanding director, according to IndieWire. Sometimes it wasn’t like that. It was perfectly normal.”
Following Kubrick’s death, Vitali took on other roles, including Romeo & Juliet in 2013, and worked with filmmaker Todd Field on his films Little Children and In The Bedroom. Vitali was also dedicated to Kubrick’s legacy, overseeing the restoration of many of the director’s films. The Kubrick estate’s official Twitter account described Vitali as a “mainstay” of his films, writing, “Our thoughts are with his family and all that [knew] and loved him.”