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Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh

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Happy-Go-Lucky DVD Sally Hawkins stars as the exuberant and cheerful central character of director... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Naked: The Criterion Collection... Winner of the Best Director and Best Actor awards at the Cannes Film Festival,... more info $26.99was $39.95 Buy Now

Topsy-Turvy: The Criterion Collection... The world of Gilbert and Sullivan comes to vivid life in this extraordinary... more info $20.99was $29.95 Buy Now

Mike Leigh Collection: Volume 1... Three of the legendary director's acclaimed works are showcased in "Mike Leigh... more info $49.95was $49.95 Buy Now

Grown Ups DVD Made for British television by filmmaker Mike Leigh, Grown Ups is a detailed... more info $19.95was $19.95 Buy Now

Abigail's Party DVD What's a social climber to do? In this wickedly funny television adaptation of... more info $19.95was $19.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died:
Born: February 20, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Lancashire, England, GB Profession: director, screenwriter, playwright, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Noted for his film style in which the commonplace was often tinged with the extraordinary, filmmaker Mike Leigh's process involved improvisational workshops and rehearsals with his actors, often done weeks before a single frame was even shot. The British writer-director worked on stage and in television projects before making a name for himself with critically-lauded films such as "Naked" (1993), "Life is Sweet" (1991), and "Secrets and Lies" (1996). With his highly personal projects, Leigh depicted the uneventful lives of ordinary people, yet presented them with plot twists, deep character development, and intricate humanism. His 2008 film "Happy-Go-Lucky," the story of a North London schoolteacher, continued the director's love of capturing everyday life and presenting it as "heightened realism," as he described it. With numerous awards and nominations for his impressive body of work, Leigh cemented his reputation as one of the most celebrated British directors of all time.

Noted for his film style in which the commonplace was often tinged with the extraordinary, filmmaker Mike Leigh's process involved improvisational workshops and rehearsals with his actors, often done weeks before a single frame was even shot. The British writer-director worked on stage and in television projects before making a name for himself with critically-lauded films such as "Naked" (1993), "Life is Sweet" (1991), and "Secrets and Lies" (1996). With his highly personal projects, Leigh depicted the uneventful lives of ordinary people, yet presented them with plot twists, deep character development, and intricate humanism. His 2008 film "Happy-Go-Lucky," the story of a North London schoolteacher, continued the director's love of capturing everyday life and presenting it as "heightened realism," as he described it. With numerous awards and nominations for his impressive body of work, Leigh cemented his reputation as one of the most celebrated British directors of all time.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
3.
  Vera Drake (2004) Director
4.
  All or Nothing (2002) Director
5.
  Topsy-Turvy (1999) Director
6.
  Career Girls (1997) Director
7.
  Secrets & Lies (1996) Director
8.
  Kiss of Death, The (1994) Director
9.
  Hard Labour (1994) Director
10.
  Naked (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Welcome to Hollywood (1998) (Cameo Appearance)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Spent one year as assistant stage manager and bit part actor
1965:
Wrote and directed first play, "The Box Play," which was produced at Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham
1965:
Associate director of the Midlands Arts Centre Theatre
1966:
Formed Dramagraph production company with author David Halliwell; produced Halliwell's play, "Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs" (Leigh directed); company went bankrupt
:
Joined the Royal Shakespeare Company as an assistant director
1972:
Wrote and directed debut feature film, "Bleak Moments"
1973:
First TV drama "Hard Labour," aired on BBC television's "Play For Today"
1975:
Made series of five "Five Minute Films" (first broadcast in 1982)
1976:
Wrote and directed "Nuts in May," aired on BBC television's "Play For Today"
1977:
Helmed "Abigail's Party," for BBC television's "Play For Today"; starred his then wife Alison Steadman
1979:
Directed and wrote the radio play, "Too Much of a Good Thing"
1982:
Was the subject of the BBC film "Mike Leigh Making Plays"
1984:
Directed the TV movie, "Meantime" (Channel 4)
:
Co-founded with Simon Channing-Williams and Adam Bernstein, Imagine Productions, a film, TV and video production House
1988:
Directed "High Hopes," about an extended working-class family living in King's Cross, London
1990:
Directed third film "Life is Sweet" starring Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall and wife, Alison Steadman
1991:
Commissioned by the London Film Festival to direct a new promotional trailer for the event, "Moving Pictures"
1993:
Wrote and directed the British film "Naked"
1996:
Helmed the critically and commercially successful film "Secrets & Lies"; re-teamed with Timothy Spall
1999:
Re-teamed with Jim Broadbent for the musical drama "Topsy-Turvy"
2002:
Again collaborated with actor Timothy Spall for "All or Nothing"
2004:
Wrote and directed "Vera Drake," a drama about a woman who illegally helps women induce miscarriages in 1950s England; earned an Oscar nomination for directing and writing
2008:
Helmed the contemporary comedy "Happy-Go-Lucky" starring Sally Hawkins; earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay
2010:
Wrote and directed the British drama, "Another Year"; re-teamed with Jim Broadbent and Lesley Manville from "Topsy-Turvy"
2011:
Directed a revival of his play "Ecstasy" at the West End's Duchess Theatre
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art: London , England - 1960 - 1962
London International School of Film Technique: - 1963 - 1964
Camberwell School of Art: - 1963 - 1964
Central School of Art and Design: - 1964 - 1965

Notes

Created an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998

Leigh "remains a merciless observer of British social types. Leigh has an uncanny gift for creating characters who, even at their most extreme, are such accurate reflections of the way the British think and talk that it comes as a shock to learn that--like the late John Cassavetes--he works without a script." --From Kathleen Carroll's review of "Life Is Sweet" in the Daily News, October 25, 1991.

"Much of the '60s ethos survives in the way Leigh arrives at his complex structures--a process that's collaborative, improvisational, and always political. His starting point is unsually an impulse that has not quite jelled into an idea. 'Actors have to agree to doing a work without knowing what it's going to be about or what their part will be," [Leigh explains]. Rehearsals begin as a series of one-on-one conversations, with Leigh urging each actor to describe as many real people as he or she can. Over time Leigh locates one character in each actor's gallery of acquaintances who resonates with characters the other actors have exhumed. Only then does he bring the cast together for improvisations that transform these potential relationships into dramatic material, which in turn evolves into a 'strictly rehearsed and scripted' story." --From Premiere, April 1989.

Leigh's theater credits include "Babies Grow Old" (1974), "The Silent Majority" (1974), "Abigail's Party" (1977), "Ecstasy" (1979) and "Smelling a Rat" (1988). His BBC credits include "Hard Labour" (1973), "Home Sweet Home" (1982), "Four Days in July" (1984) and for Channel 4 "Meantime" (1981).

Leigh received the Order of the British Empire in 1993.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Alison Steadman. Actor. Married September 15, 1973; separated in 1996.

Family close complete family listing

grandfather:
Mayer Lieberman. Portrait miniaturist. Russian; immigrated to UK in 1902.
father:
Alfred Abraham Leigh. Doctor. Met wife through the Habonim, a left-wing Zionist youth organization; changed name from Lieberman to Leigh.
mother:
Phyllis Pauline Leigh. Met husband through the Habonim, a left-wing Zionist youth organization.
son:
Toby Leigh. Born c. 1978 mother Alison Steadman.
son:
Leo Leigh. Born c. 1981; mother Alison Steadman.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World" Cambridge University Press

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