Leon Vitali - Biography


Vitali was born "Alfred Leon" in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England in 1948 and went on to attend drama school. Vitali went on to guest-star in a number of TV series in the early 1970s, appearing in Softly, Softly, Follyfoot, Roads to Freedom, Z Cars, Public Eye, The Fenn Street Gang, series 1, and Notorious Woman among others. In 1973 he made his feature film debut in two movies: the Italian Si può essere più bastardi dell'ispettore Cliff? (directed by Massimo Dallamano, who had previously worked with Sergio Leone as a cinematographer in the first two of his Dollars Trilogy) and TV-film Catholics, next to Martin Sheen and Michael Gambon.

It wasn't until 1975 that Vitali met Stanley Kubrick, with whom he would go on to have a professional relationship for the rest of Kubrick's career. Vitali answered a cast call for Barry Lyndon and got the part of Lord Bullingdon, the title character's stepson. Kubrick and Vitali bonded during the shoot. Five years later, Kubrick sent Vitali a copy of Stephen King's The Shining and asked him to join the production of Kubrick's next film, to which Vitali eagerly agreed. He is credited in The Shining (1980) as "personal assistant to director".

In 1977 he portrayed Victor Frankenstein in Calvin Floyd's adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein, where he met his would-be-wife Kersti Vitali, who worked as costume designer in the shoot. The Vitalis then worked as costume designers in Birgitta Svensson's Mackan, after which Leon played a bit part in Svensson's next film, Inter Rail (1981). Leon and Kersti would divorce later on.

Vitali teamed once more with Stanley Kubrick for Full Metal Jacket (1987), where he served both as "casting director" and "assistant to director". Twelve years later, Vitali was credited with the same titles in working with Kubrick in what would be his last movie, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), where he also had a small role playing the ominous Red Cloak who confronts Tom Cruise during the infamous orgy scene. Vitali's name can actually be seen in the third column of the newspaper article that Cruise's character reads to learn about the Ex-beauty queen in hotel drugs overdose. Vitali's cameo in print is as a "fashion designer".

Since Kubrick's death, Vitali has overseen the restoration of both picture and sound elements for most of Kubrick's films. In 2004 Vitali was honored with the Cinema Audio Society's President's Award for this work.

Vitali owns Bill's (Tom Cruise's) mask from Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

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