Leon Vitali, an English actor who most notably played Lord Bullingdon in “Barry Lyndon” before becoming director Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant, died Saturday. He was 74 years old.
Vitali’s death was confirmed by the official social media presence for Kubrick. No further details regarding Vitali’s death are available at this time.
“It is with the greatest of sadness that we have to tell you that the mainstay of a vast number of Kubrick’s films, Leon Vitali, passed away peacefully last night,” the account wrote in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family.”
It is with the greatest of sadness that we have to tell you that the mainstay of a vast number of Kubrick’s films, Leon Vitali, passed away peacefully last night. Our thoughts are with his family and all that new and loved him.
26 July 1948 – 20 August 2022 pic.twitter.com/uE0Q1KvQi1
— Stanley Kubrick (@StanleyKubrick) August 21, 2022
As a screen actor, Vitali is best-known for his performance in Kubrick’s period black comedy. Vitali portrays the slighted, brattish stepson to Ryan O’Neal’s eponymous blank-faced scoundrel — the pair’s screwy feud culminates in the final confrontation of the story.
While “Barry Lyndon” didn’t establish Vitali as a regular performer, it did lead to the actor fostering a deep relationship with Kubrick, who allowed Vitali to oversee the editing process of the film after principal photography was completed. A few years later, Kubrick invited Vitali, now in his early-30’s, to help with work on his next project, 1980’s “The Shining.” Vitali is credited as a “personal assistant to director” on the landmark horror film.
Vitali continued to work with Kubrick through the remainder of the director’s life, serving as a casting director and assistant to the director on 1987’s “Full Metal Jacket” and 1999’s “Eyes Wide Shut.” Vitali also portrayed Red Cloak, the masked leader of the aristocratic, orgiastic cult at the center of the latter film.
Following Kubrick’s death in 1999, Vitali supervised the restoration of many of the director’s films. He was the subject of Tony Zierra’s documentary “Filmworker,” which detailed his life in the film industry and his relationship with Kubrick. “Filmworker” premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Vitali began in the arts by attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art before beginning a series of guest-star appearances in various British television series in the early 1970s.
Vitali’s work in the film industry also extended beyond his relationship with Kubrick. He played feature roles in “Super Bitch,” “Catholics” and 2013’s “Romeo & Juliet.” Vitali also collaborated with filmmaker Todd Field, with credits as a technical consultant and an associate producer on his first two feature films, respectively.
Vitali married and divorced three times in his life. He is survived by his three children, producer Masha Vitali, actress Vera Vitali and videographer Max Vitali.