Leon Vitali, best known for his decades of collaboration with legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, died peacefully and surrounded by family and friends in Los Angeles on Friday at 74 years old, his family told The Associated Press.
“Leon was a special and lovely man driven by his curiosity, who spread love and warmth wherever he went,” his daughter Masha Vitali said in a statement. “He will be remembered with love and be hugely missed by the many people he touched.”
Vitali’s family did not reveal a cause of death.
Vitali dedicated his career to Kubrick’s vision, assuming many roles behind the scenes and in front of the camera. However, his dedication to Kubrick’s vision earned him a spot in the filmmaker’s inner circle after he struck them with his “kindness, humility, and the fascinating scope of his story.”
During his career, Vitali was known for his performances in “Barry Lyndon” as Lord Bullingdon and “Eyes Wide Shut” as the Red Cloak.
His work as Lord Bullingdon put him on the map as one of Hollywood’s rising actors. Still, when he became well acquainted with Kubrick he dedicated the next 20 years to working on his films, including a credit as “personal assistant to the director” on “The Shining,” where he helped cast 4-year-old Danny Lloyd to play Danny Torrance, and Louise and Lisa Burns as the Grady Twins.
Aside from “giving the performance of his life” as Lord Bullingdon, Vitali was praised by representatives of Kubrick’s verified legacy Twitter account Sunday for providing behind-the-scenes work and technical support for the Academy Award-winning film “Full Metal Jacket.”
“Leon Vitali was the heartbeat of Kubrick’s films after the master himself,” the post reads.
Although Vitali was 20 years younger, he and Kubrick shared the same July 26 birthday.
Matthew Modine, who starred in Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” shared his condolences Sunday.
“There are people we meet who have a profound impact upon our lives. Leon Vitali was one such person in mine,” Modine said. “An artist in every aspect of his life.”
“A loving father & friend to so many. A kind, generous & forgiving nature. He exemplified & personified grace,” Modine added.
His work and influence in the movie industry sparked filmmaker Tony Zierra to profile Vitali in the 2017 documentary “Filmworker,” highlighting his contributions to Kubrick’s catalog, such as casting to coaching actors.
Vitali is survived by his wife Sharon Masser and children Vera Vitali, Max Vitali, and Masha Vitali.