52 Facts About Mike Leigh


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


Mike Leigh has received numerous accolades, including prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, the Venice International Film Festival, three BAFTA Awards, and nominations for seven Academy Awards.


Mike Leigh received the BAFTA Fellowship in 2014, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1993 Birthday Honours for services to the film industry.


Mike Leigh's short-lived acting career included the role of a mute in the 1963 Maigret episode "The Flemish Shop".


Mike Leigh began working 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.


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


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


Mike Leigh received further Oscar nominations for Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, and Another Year.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


In 1960, "to his utter astonishment", Mike Leigh won a scholarship to RADA.


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


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.


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 "felt it might be possible to create complete plays from scratch with a group of actors".


Mike Leigh had 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.


In 1965, Mike Leigh went to work at the Midlands Art Centre in Birmingham as a resident assistant director and started to experiment with the idea that writing and rehearsing could be part of the same process.


Mike Leigh worked on an improvised play of his own with some professional actors called NENAA, which explored the fantasies of a Tynesider working in a cafe, with ideas of founding an arts association in the northeast.


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


Mike Leigh gradually extended "the long journey home", visiting Bali, Singapore, Hong Kong, China.


Later in 1988, Mike Leigh made High Hopes, about a disjointed working-class family whose members live in a rundown flat and a council house.


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


Mike Leigh shakes them, hugs them, sometimes despairs over them, but never thinks that they are other than versions of ourselves.


Mike Leigh followed that success with Career Girls and Topsy-Turvy, a period drama about the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.


In 2005, Mike Leigh returned to directing for the stage after many years with a new play, Two Thousand Years, at the Royal National Theatre.


In 2002, Mike Leigh directed the working-class drama All or Nothing.


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


In 2008, Mike Leigh released a modern-day comedy, Happy-Go-Lucky, starring Sally Hawkins.


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


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


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, Morten Tyldum, Angelina Jolie, and Christopher Nolan.


In 2015, Mike Leigh accepted an offer from English National Opera to direct the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance.


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


In February 2020, it was reported that Mike Leigh would begin shooting his latest film in the summer.


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


Mike Leigh starts with some ideas of how he thinks things might develop, but does not reveal all his intentions to the cast, who gradually discover their fates and act out their responses.


Mike Leigh reminds the cast of material from the improvisations that he hopes to capture on film.


The art of evasion and failure in communication certainly comes from Pinter, whom Mike Leigh acknowledges as an important influence.


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


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


Mike Leigh participated again in the 2022 poll, selecting the following ten films:.


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


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


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


In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, Mike Leigh signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election.


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


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


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