Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh
Five-time Oscar nominee, BAFTA winner, the only British director to have won the top prize at both Cannes (for Secrets & Lies ) and Venice (for Vera Drake ) - Mike Leigh is unquestionably one of world cinema's pre-eminent figures. Now, in this definitive career-length interview, he reflects on all that has gone into the making of his unique body of work.
Initially trained in theatre, Leigh devised his own method for the making of first plays and then films, based on months of improvisation and rehearsal with his actors prior to shooting. Leigh creates characters with his actors, leading them on a journey to discover the world and the meaning of the film. No wonder those actors have uniformly found Leigh a career-changing revelation.
In their commingling of bleakness and humour, Leigh's films recreate the tragi-comic world of people whose everyday lives are far from glamorous: a world in which 'the done thing' usually prevails, contrary to our inner hopes, wants or needs. Leigh's work has always reflected its times and entered the vernacular, whether the harsh studies of Meantime and Naked or the humour of the now-legendary Abigail's Party and Nuts in May . Above all, Leigh is an accomplished storyteller, and these films deal with universal themes: births, marriages and deaths, parenthood and failed relationships, families and their secrets and lies.
Within these pages Leigh speaks to Amy Raphael more openly than ever before of his life and inimitable working method, revealing himself as passionate, forthright, no sufferer of fools, but the owner of a dry and playful Mancunian wit.
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