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Encyclopedia > Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh

Born February 20, 1943 (1943-02-20) (age 65)
Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England
Spouse(s) Alison Steadman (1973-2001)

Mike Leigh OBE (born February 20, 1943) is an English film and theatre director, screenwriter, and playwright. He studied theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and did his early acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He began as a theatre director and playwright in the 1960s, and then in the 1970s, he made the transition to television plays, many of which were characterized by a gritty "kitchen sink realism" style. Some of his well-known films include Life is Sweet (1990), the Gilbert and Sullivan biography Topsy Turvy (1999), and the bleak working-class drama All or Nothing (2002). His most notable works are arguably the BAFTA-winning (and Oscar-nominated) Secrets & Lies (1996) and Vera Drake (2004). BAFTA Award The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), is a British organisation that hosts annual awards shows for film, television, childrens film and television, and interactive media. ... Winners of the BAFTA Award for Best Direction presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... The Best Director Award (French: Prix de la mise en scène) is an award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. ... The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Naked Naked (1993) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Palme dOr The Palme dOr (Golden Palm) is the highest prize given to a film at the Cannes Film Festival. ... The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... The Golden Lion (it: Leone dOro) is the name of the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival. ... The Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale dArte Cinematografica) takes place every year in late August/early September on the Lido di Venezia in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi, in Venice, Italy. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V. The Order includes five classes in civil and military divisions; in decreasing order of seniority, these are Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE) Knight Commander... is the 51st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... Director Herbert Brenon with actress Alla Nazimova on the set of War Brides, 1916 A director is a person who directs the making of a film. ... A theatre director is a principal in the theatre field who oversees and orchestrates the mounting of a play by unifying various endeavors and aspects of production. ... RADAs theatre in London The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in Bloomsbury, London, is considered to be one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world. ... Kitchen sink realism was a recognisable English cultural movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. ... Life Is Sweet (1990) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Topsy-Turvy is a 1999 film that tells the background story of the creation of Gilbert and Sullivans The Mikado in 1884-1885. ... This page is about a 2002 film by Mike Leigh. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ...


Leigh is often compared to filmmaker Ken Loach, who also makes social realism-oriented films that focus on the banal conflicts of the "everyday life" of regular people. Most of Leigh's films are set amidst the blighted "urban decay of the inner city, or amid the soulessness of suburbia" [1]. Leigh often begins projects without a script; instead, he sets out a basic premise, and lets the ideas develop through improvisation by the actors, who explore their character. Some critics have argued that with this creative approach, "Leigh exploits his actors by getting them to do the work for them (sic)." [2] Ken Loach Kenneth Loach (born June 17, 1936), known as Ken Loach, is an English television and film director, known for his naturalistic style and socialist themes. ... A Diego Rivera mural depicting factory workers in Detroit Social Realism is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts working class activities as heroic. ...

Contents

Biography

Early life

Leigh was born in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire. He was brought up in a Jewish immigrant family (whose surname was originally Lieberman, but was anglicised before Leigh's birth). His father was a doctor in an overwhelmingly working-class area of Salford (near Manchester). Initially trained as an actor at RADA, Leigh went on to start honing his directing skills at East 15 Acting School where he met the actress Alison Steadman. // [edit] Broughton as a place name [edit] Australia Port Broughton, South Australia [edit] United Kingdom [edit] England Broughton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire Broughton, Cambridgeshire Broughton, Craven, North Yorkshire Broughton, Greater Manchester Broughton, Hampshire Broughton, Kent Broughton, Lancashire Broughton, Lincolnshire Broughton, Milton Keynes Broughton, Northamptonshire Broughton Sulney Nottinghamshire Broughton, Oxfordshire Broughton, Ryedale, North... For other uses, see Salford (disambiguation). ... Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... For other uses, see Salford (disambiguation). ... This article is about the City of Manchester in England. ... Rada is the term for council or assembly borrowed by Polish from Middle High German Rat (council) and later passed into Czech, Ukrainian, and Belarusian languages. ... East 15 is a professional acting school in Loughton, Essex. ... Alison Steadman OBE (born on July 26, 1945) is an award-winning English stage, television and film actress. ...


He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1960. He later attended Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, the Central School of Art and Design, and the London Film School. In 1965 he began to write and direct his first plays.


Career

In the 1970s, Leigh made nine television plays. Earlier plays such as Nuts in May and Abigail's Party tended more towards bleakly yet humorously satirising middle-class manners and attitudes, His plays are generally more caustic, stridently trying to show the banality of society. Goose-Pimples and Abigail's Party both focus on the vulgar middle class in a convivial party setting that spirals out of control. Nuts in May (aka Play for Today: Nuts in May) is a 1976 film written and directed by Mike Leigh, originally broadcast as part of the BBCs Play for Today series of television programs. ... Abigails Party UK DVD cover Abigails Party is a 1977 play for stage and television created by Mike Leigh. ... This article is about the socio-economic class from a global vantage point. ...


In 1988, he made the film High Hopes (1988), about a disjointed working-class family whose members live in a "run-down flat" and a "council house." His later films such as Naked and Vera Drake are somewhat starker, more brutal, and concentrate more on the working-class; Leigh's next film, however, is a modern-day comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky. A commitment to social realism and humanism is evident throughout. His stage plays include Smelling A Rat, It's A Great Big Shame, Greek Tragedy, Goose-Pimples, Ecstasy, and Abigail's Party. For the 1988 Mike Leigh film, see High Hopes (movie) High Hopes is a song from the 1994 Pink Floyd album The Division Bell, written by David Gilmour and Polly Samson. ... Naked Naked (1993) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Statue of a coal miner in Charleston, WV, USA. Working class is a term used in academic sociology and in ordinary conversation. ... List of Veronica Mars episodes Happy Go Lucky is episode 21 of season 2 of the television show Veronica Mars. ... A Diego Rivera mural depicting factory workers in Detroit Social Realism is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts working class activities as heroic. ... Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities — particularly rationality. ... Greek Tragedy is a 1989 play by British playwright Mike Leigh. ... Ecstasy is a 1979 play by British playwright Mike Leigh. ...


The anger inherent in Leigh's material, in some ways typical of the Thatcher years, softened after her departure from the political scene. In 2005, Leigh returned to directing for the stage after many years absence with his new play, Two Thousand Years at the Royal National Theatre in London. The play deals with the divisions within a left-wing secular Jewish family when one of the younger members finds religion. It is the first time Leigh has drawn on his Jewish background for inspiration. Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts; born 13 October 1925) served as British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 until 1990, being the first and only woman to hold either post. ... The Royal National Theatre from Waterloo Bridge The Royal National Theatre is a building complex and theatre company located on the South Bank in London, England immediately east of the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. ... In politics, left-wing, political left, leftism, or simply the left, are terms which refer (with no particular precision) to the segment of the political spectrum typically associated with any of several strains of socialism, social democracy, or liberalism (especially in the American sense of the word), or with opposition...


Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and storylines for his films. He starts with some sketch ideas of how he thinks things might develop, but does not reveal all his intentions with the cast who discover their fate and act out their responses as their destinies are gradually revealed. Initial preparation is in private with the director and then the actors are introduced to each other in the order that their characters would have met in their lives. Intimate moments are explored that will not even be referred to in the final film to build insight and understanding of history, character and inner motivation.


The critical scenes in the eventual story are performed and recorded in full-costumed, real-time improvisations where the actors encounter for the first time new characters, events or information which may dramatically affect their characters' lives. Final filming is more traditional as definite sense of story, action and dialogue is then in place. The director reminds the cast of material from the improvisations that he hopes to capture on film.


In an interview with Laura Miller, "Listening to the World: An Interview With Mike Leigh," published on salon.com, Leigh states, "I make very stylistic films indeed, but style doesn't become a substitute for truth and reality. It's an integral, organic part of the whole thing." Leigh's vision is to depict ordinary life, "real life," unfolding under extenuating circumstances. He makes courageous decisions to document reality. He speaks about the criticism Naked received: "The criticism comes from the kind of quarters where "political correctness" in its worst manifestation is rife. It's this kind of naive notion of how we should be in an unrealistic and altogether unhealthily over-wholesome way".[3]


Leigh has won several prizes at major European film festivals. Most notably he won the Best Director award at Cannes for Naked in 1993 and the Palme d'Or in 1996 for Secrets & Lies. He won the Leone d'Oro for the best film at the International Venice Film Festival in 2004 with Vera Drake. He has been nominated for the Academy Award five times, twice each for Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake (Best Original Screenplay and Best Directing) and once for Topsy-Turvy (Best Original Screenplay only). The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Naked Naked (1993) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Palme dOr The Palme dOr (Golden Palm) is the highest prize given to a film at the Cannes Film Festival. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... The Golden Lion (Italian: ) is the name of the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival. ... The Venice Film Festival ( ) is the oldest film festival in the world. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ... Topsy-Turvy is a 1999 film which tells the background story of the creation of The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. ...

Given the choice of Hollywood or poking steel pins in my eyes, I'd prefer steel pins.
 
— Mike Leigh

Leigh used a pool of actors regularly over the years, such as Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Timothy Spall, Lesley Manville and Jim Broadbent. He also worked with the late Katrin Cartlidge. Tim Roth (born 14 May 1961, as Timothy Simon Smith in Dulwich, London) is an Academy Award-nominated English film actor and director. ... Gary Leonard Oldman[1] (born March 21, 1958) is an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild-nominated, Saturn and BAFTA award-winning English-born American[2] film actor, writer and director. ... David Thewlis (born March 20, 1963 as David Wheeler) is an English film, television and stage actor. ... Timothy Leonard Spall OBE (born February 27, 1957) is an English BAFTA award-nominated film, stage and television actor. ... Lesley Manville (born 12 March 1956 in Brighton, East Sussex, England) is an actress. ... James Broadbent (born May 24, 1949) is an Academy Award-winning English theatre, film and television actor. ... Katrin Cartlidge in Career Girls (1997) Katrin Cartlidge (May 15, 1961 – September 7, 2002) was a British actress. ...


Personal life

In September 1973 he married Alison Steadman; they have two sons. Steadman is perhaps the most consistent presence in his work, appearing in seven of his films and several of his plays, including Wholesome Glory and Abigail's Party. They divorced in 2001. He lives in Central London, near the British Museum Alison Steadman OBE (born on July 26, 1945) is an award-winning English stage, television and film actress. ...


Filmography

Nuts in May (aka Play for Today: Nuts in May) is a 1976 film written and directed by Mike Leigh, originally broadcast as part of the BBCs Play for Today series of television programs. ... The Play for Today logo, seen here in the opening title sequence from 1976. ... Abigails Party UK DVD cover Abigails Party is a 1977 play for stage and television created by Mike Leigh. ... Kiss of Death (film) can refer to: Kiss of Death (1947 film), a 1947 film starring Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray and Richard Widmark. ... Meantime (1984) is a Mike Leigh film, primarily looking at how the dole affects the underclass in Britain. ... High Hopes is a 1988 film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Life Is Sweet (1990) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Naked Naked (1993) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... Career Girls is a 1997 film by Mike Leigh which tells the story of two women, who reunite after six years apart. ... Topsy-Turvy is a 1999 film which tells the background story of the creation of The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. ... This page is about a 2002 film by Mike Leigh. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... List of Veronica Mars episodes Happy Go Lucky is episode 21 of season 2 of the television show Veronica Mars. ...

List of plays

  • The Box Play (1965)
  • My Parents Have Gone to Carlisle (1966)
  • The Last Crusade of Five Little Nuns (1966)
  • Individual Fruit Pies (1968)
  • Glum Victoria and the Lad with Specs (1969)
  • Bleak Moments (1970)
  • A Rancid Pong (1971)
  • Wholesome Glory (1973)
  • The Jaws of Death (1973)
  • Dick Whittington and his Cat (1973)
  • Babies Grow Old (1974)
  • The Silent Majority (1974)
  • Abigail's Party (1977)
  • Too Much of a Good Thing 1979; BBC radio)
  • Ecstasy (1979)
  • Goose-Pimples (1981)
  • Smelling a Rat (1988)
  • Greek Tragedy (1989)
  • It's a Great Big Shame! (1993)
  • Two Thousand Years (2005)

Abigails Party UK DVD cover Abigails Party is a 1977 play for stage and television created by Mike Leigh. ... Ecstasy is a 1979 play by British playwright Mike Leigh. ... Greek Tragedy is a 1989 play by British playwright Mike Leigh. ...

Footnotes

  1. ^ Mike Leigh
  2. ^ Mike Leigh
  3. ^ Salon: Mike Leigh, page 2

Further reading

  • Carney, Ray & Quart, Leonard, The Films of Mike Leigh - Embracing the World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
  • Coveney, Michael, The World According to Mike Leigh (London: HarperCollins, 1996)
  • Clements, Paul, The Improvised Play (London: Methuen, 1983)

Movshovitz, Howie (ed.)

  • Mike Leigh Interviews (Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2000)

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Robert Altman
for The Player
Award for Best Director - Cannes Film Festival
1993
for Naked
Succeeded by
Nanni Moretti
for Caro diario
Preceded by
Emir Kusturica
for Underground
Palme d'Or - Cannes Film Festival
1996
for Secrets & Lies
Succeeded by
Abbas Kiarostami
for Taste of Cherry and Shohei Imamura for The Eel
Preceded by
Andrey Zvyagintsev
for The Return
Golden Lion - Venice International Film Festival
2004
for Vera Drake
Succeeded by
Ang Lee
for Brokeback Mountain
Preceded by
Peter Weir
for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
BAFTA Award for Best Direction
2004
for Vera Drake
Succeeded by
Ang Lee
for Brokeback Mountain
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, actors, television shows, production crew personnel, and video games. ... For other uses, see Guardian. ... is the 76th day of the year (77th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... For other persons named Robert Altman, see Robert Altman (disambiguation). ... The Player (1992) is a movie that tells the story of Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins), a Hollywood studio executive who believes he is being blackmailed by a screenwriter whose script he once rejected. ... The Best Director Award (French: Prix de la mise en scène) is an award presented at the Cannes Film Festival. ... The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Naked Naked (1993) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Giovanni (Nanni) Moretti (born August 19, 1953) is an Italian film director. ... Caro diario (English: ) is an Italian language, semi-autobiographical film in the style of a documentary which was directed by Nanni Moretti in 1994. ... Emir Kusturica (Serbian Cyrillic: Емир Кустурица; IPA: ) (born November 24, 1954 in Sarajevo) is a Serbian filmmaker and actor. ... Underground (Serbian: Подземље, Podzemlje) is a 1995 award-winning film directed by Emir Kusturica with a screenplay by DuÅ¡an Kovačević. It is also known by the subtitle Once Upon a Time There Was a Country (Serbian: Била једном једна земља, Bila jednom jedna zemlja), which was the title of the story shown on... Palme dOr The Palme dOr (Golden Palm) is the highest prize given to a film at the Cannes Film Festival. ... The Cannes Film Festival (French: le Festival de Cannes), founded in 1939, is one of the worlds oldest, most influential and prestigious film festivals. ... Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film which tells the story of a successful black woman who, while tracing her family history, discovers that her mother is a lower-class white woman (whose brother is a photographer married to a petty house-proud suburban woman). ... Abbas Kiarostami (Persian: `Abbās KiyārostamÄ«; born 22 June 1940) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film producer. ... Taste of Cherry (Persian: طعم گيلاس Tam-e gilass) is a 1997 film by acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. ... Shohei Imamura (今村 昌平 Imamura Shōhei) (born 15 September 1926 in Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese film director. ... The Eel (Japanese: うなぎ, Unagi) is a 1997 film directed by Shohei Imamura starring Koji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho and Akira Emoto. ... Andrey Zvyagintsev (Андрей Звягинцев) is a Russian actor and film-maker noted for his exceptionally successful debut in directing with award-winning drama The Return (2003). ... The Return (Russian: ; tr. ... The Golden Lion (it: Leone dOro) is the name of the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival. ... The Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale dArte Cinematografica) takes place every year in late August/early September on the Lido di Venezia in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi, in Venice, Italy. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Ang Lee (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) (born October 23, 1954) is an Academy-Award winning film director from the Republic of China (Taiwan). ... This article is about the motion picture. ... Peter Lindsay Weir (born August 21, 1944) is an Australian film director. ... Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a 2003 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, with Paul Bettany as Stephen Maturin. ... Winners of the BAFTA Award for Best Direction presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. ... Vera Drake (2004) is a British film directed by Mike Leigh. ... Ang Lee (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) (born October 23, 1954) is an Academy-Award winning film director from the Republic of China (Taiwan). ... This article is about the motion picture. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Mike Leigh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (920 words)
Mike Leigh (born February 20, 1943) is an award winning British film and theatre director.
The evident anger inherent in Leigh's material, in some ways typical of the Thatcher years, fittingly seemed to soften after her departure from the political scene.
Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and storylines for his films.
BBC NEWS | In Depth | Newsmakers | Mike Leigh: Britain's Bergman (873 words)
Mike Leigh's acutely-observed vignettes on British life - usually featuring the poor, the dispossessed and the downright odd - have captured the essence of their times, whether they be the aspirational 70s, the socially-divisive 80s or the neurotic 90s.
Mike Leigh was born in Salford, Lancashire in 1943.
Leigh's domain is the seedy bed-sit, the run-down council estate, where stilted conversation, casual violence and loveless sex are the norm.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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