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Mike Leigh

Mike LeighBorn: 20-Feb-1943
Birthplace: Salford, Lancashrie, England

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Film Director

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Naked, Topsy-Turvy

Mike Leigh is a British filmmaker who eschews traditional screenplays. Instead he works with the actors to create their characters, then has the cast improvise situations for hours on end, without cameras running. When Leigh likes what he's seen, he distills it to a few minutes of scripted dialogue. His films are generally set in London, and usually involve odd yet working-class characters. Only the accents, often cockney-loaded, keep Leigh from being as appreciated in America as he is in England.

Leigh first attended theater school in hopes of an acting career, but when teachers deemed his talents insufficient, he switched to art school, then film school, deciding he would direct. He worked as an assistant director for several stage productions, and his eagerness and impudence impressed actor Albert Finney, who agreed to finance Leigh's first film. It was Bleak Moments, offering exactly that the tale of a lonely, hard-drinking secretary yearning for romance but stuck taking care of her retarded sister. The film was released to rave reviews in 1971, but Leigh was not satisfied with his own work. For the next seventeen years, he directed 19 plays and 11 TV movies, before returning again to the cinema.

His most popular films include the class comedy-drama High Hopes, the dysfunctional family film Life Is Sweet, the epic of cynicism, alienation, and self-loathing Naked, and the delightful visit backstage with Gilbert & Sullivan, Topsy-Turvy. Nuts in May is a tongue-in-cheek comedy about a couple's camping trip, with every moment micro-managed, planned in advance.

Father: Alfred Abraham Lieberman (doctor)
Mother: Phyllis Pauline (Cousin) Lieberman
Wife: Alison Steadman (actress, m. 1973, div. 2001, two sons)
Son: Toby Leigh (b. 1978)
Son: Leo Leigh (b. 1981)

    University: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London
    University: Camberwell School of Art, London
    University: London International School of Film Technique
    University: Central School of Art and Design, London

    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2010
    Russian Ancestry

    Peterloo (1-Sep-2018)
    Mr. Turner (15-May-2014)
    Another Year (15-May-2010)
    Happy-Go-Lucky (12-Feb-2008)
    Vera Drake (6-Sep-2004)
    All or Nothing (17-May-2002)
    Topsy-Turvy (3-Sep-1999)
    Career Girls (1-Jun-1997)
    Secrets & Lies (24-May-1996)
    Naked (14-Sep-1993)
    Life Is Sweet (22-Mar-1991)
    High Hopes (24-Sep-1988)
    Four Days in July (29-Jan-1985)
    Meantime (Feb-1984)
    Abigail's Party (1-Nov-1977)
    Nuts in May (13-Jan-1976)
    Bleak Moments (1971)

    Welcome to Hollywood (27-Oct-2000) · Himself
    West 11 (8-Oct-1963)

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