46 Facts About Mike Leigh


Mike Leigh was born on 20 February 1943 and is an English film and theatre director, screenwriter and playwright.

FactSnippet No. 495,543

Mike Leigh studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and further at the Camberwell School of Art, the Central School of Art and Design and the London School of Film Technique.

FactSnippet No. 495,544

Mike Leigh began his career as a theatre director and playwright in the mid-1960s, before transitioning to making televised plays and films for BBC Television in the 1970s and '80s.

FactSnippet No. 495,545

Mike Leigh is known for his lengthy rehearsal and improvisation techniques with actors to build characters and narrative for his films.

FactSnippet No. 495,546

Mike Leigh's purpose is to capture reality and present "emotional, subjective, intuitive, instinctive, vulnerable films.

FactSnippet No. 495,547

Mike Leigh won great success with American audiences with the female led films, Vera Drake starring Imelda Staunton, Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) with Sally Hawkins, the family drama Another Year (2010), and the historical drama Peterloo (2018).

FactSnippet No. 495,548

Mike Leigh's stage plays include Smelling A Rat, It's A Great Big Shame, Greek Tragedy, Goose-Pimples, Ecstasy and Abigail's Party.

FactSnippet No. 495,549

Mike Leigh's London is as distinctive as Fellini's Rome or Ozu's Tokyo.

FactSnippet No. 495,550

Mike Leigh was born to Phyllis Pauline and Alfred Abraham Mike Leigh, a doctor.

FactSnippet No. 495,551

Mike Leigh was born at Brocket Hall in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, which was at that time a maternity home.

FactSnippet No. 495,552

Mike Leigh was brought up in the Broughton area of Salford, Lancashire.

FactSnippet No. 495,553

Mike Leigh is from a Jewish family; his paternal grandparents were Russian-Jewish immigrants who settled in Manchester.

FactSnippet No. 495,554

Outside school Mike Leigh thrived in the Manchester branch of Labour Zionist youth movement Habonim.

FactSnippet No. 495,555

Mike Leigh forbade him his frequent habit of sketching visitors who came to the house and regarded him as a problem child because of his creative interests.

FactSnippet No. 495,556

Mike Leigh responded negatively to RADA's agenda, found himself being taught how to "laugh, cry and snog" for weekly rep purposes and so became a sullen student.

FactSnippet No. 495,557

Mike Leigh later attended Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, the Central School of Art and Design and the London School of Film Technique on Charlotte Street.

FactSnippet No. 495,558

When he had arrived in London, one of the first films he had seen was Shadows, an improvised film by John Cassavetes, in which a cast of unknowns was observed 'living, loving and bickering' on the streets of New York and Mike Leigh had "felt it might be possible to create complete plays from scratch with a group of actors.

FactSnippet No. 495,559

Mike Leigh played small roles in several British films in the early 1960s, and played a young deaf-mute, interrogated by Rupert Davies, in the BBC Television series Maigret.

FactSnippet No. 495,560

Mike Leigh wrote, in 1970, "I saw that we must start off with a collection of totally unrelated characters and then go through a process in which I must cause them to meet each other, and build a network of real relationships; the play would be drawn from the results.

FactSnippet No. 495,561

Mike Leigh's plays are generally more caustic, stridently trying to show the banality of society.

FactSnippet No. 495,562

Mike Leigh was in Australia at the time – having agreed to attend a screenwriters' conference in Melbourne at the start of 1985, he had then accepted an invitation to teach at the Australian Film School in Sydney – and he then 'buried his solitude and sense of loss in a busy round of people, publicity and talks.

FactSnippet No. 495,563

Mike Leigh said later, " The whole thing was an amazing, unforgettable period in my life.

FactSnippet No. 495,564

Mike Leigh's stage plays include Smelling A Rat, It's A Great Big Shame, Greek Tragedy, Goose-Pimples, Ecstasy, and Abigail's Party.

FactSnippet No. 495,565

Derek Malcolm of The Guardian noted that the film "is certainly Mike Leigh's most striking piece of cinema to date" and that "it tries to articulate what is wrong with the society that Mrs Thatcher claims does not exist.

FactSnippet No. 495,566

The film's ensemble featured a cast of Mike Leigh regulars including Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn, Phyllis Logan, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.

FactSnippet No. 495,567

In 2005, Mike 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.

FactSnippet No. 495,568

In 2002, Mike Leigh became chairman for his alma mater, London Film School.

FactSnippet No. 495,569

Mike Leigh remained chair until March 2018, where he was succeeded by Greg Dyke.

FactSnippet No. 495,570

In 2008, Mike Leigh released his a modern-day comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky starring Sally Hawkins where it debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival where she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.

FactSnippet No. 495,571

Mike Leigh's received many Awards including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

FactSnippet No. 495,572

In 2010, Mike Leigh released his film, Another Year starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, and Lesley Manville.

FactSnippet No. 495,573

In 2012, Mike Leigh was selected to be jury president of the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival.

FactSnippet No. 495,574

That year, Mike Leigh joined The Hollywood Reporter for an hourlong roundtable discussion with other directors who had made films that year Richard Linklater, Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), and Christopher Nolan (Interstellar).

FactSnippet No. 495,575

In 2018, Mike Leigh released another historical feature, Peterloo, based on the 1819 Peterloo Massacre.

FactSnippet No. 495,576

Mike Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and storylines for his films.

FactSnippet No. 495,577

Mike Leigh 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.

FactSnippet No. 495,578

Mike Leigh begins his projects without a script, but starts from a basic premise that is developed through improvisation by the actors.

FactSnippet No. 495,579

Mike Leigh speaks about the criticism Naked received: "The criticism comes from the kind of quarters where "political correctness" in its worst manifestation is rife.

FactSnippet No. 495,580

Mike Leigh has cited Jean Renoir and Satyajit Ray among his favourite film makers.

FactSnippet No. 495,581

Mike Leigh then lived in central London with the actress Marion Bailey.

FactSnippet No. 495,582

Mike Leigh is an atheist and a Distinguished Supporter of Humanists UK.

FactSnippet No. 495,583

In 2014, Mike Leigh publicly backed "Hacked Off" and its campaign for UK press self-regulation by "safeguarding the press from political interference while giving vital protection to the vulnerable.

FactSnippet No. 495,584

In November 2019, along with other public figures, Mike Leigh signed a letter supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him ahead of the 2019 UK general election.

FactSnippet No. 495,585

Mike Leigh has won several prizes at major European film festivals.

FactSnippet No. 495,586

Mike Leigh won the Leone d'Oro for the best film at the International Venice Film Festival in 2004 with Vera Drake.

FactSnippet No. 495,587

Mike Leigh was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1993 Birthday Honours, for services to the film industry.

FactSnippet No. 495,588