Home entertainment Irish stars remember writer and director David Leland following death aged 82

Irish stars remember writer and director David Leland following death aged 82

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Irish stars remember writer and director David Leland following death aged 82

Irish stars Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson are among those who have paid tribute to writer, director and actor David Leland following his death at the age of 82.

British star Leland, whose career spanned more than five decades, died on Christmas Eve “held tight by his loving family”, his agent confirmed on Wednesday.

A statement from Casarotto Ramsay & Associates said Leland gave James Bond star Brosnan his “first opportunity to act on stage” in the British premiere of Tennessee Williams’ The Red Devil Battery Sign at The Round House, which Leland directed.

“David Leland holds a mighty place in my heart,” Brosnan said.

“He gave me my break as an actor in Tennessee Williams’ play The Red Devil Battery Sign. I was just out of Drama Centre where David was also an alumni.

“It was the thrill of my young lifetime to be cast as McCabe, working with David and Tennessee. David will forever be an essential part of my story and of all who knew and loved him.”

Leland’s later directorial credits include The Big Man in 1990, starring Neeson, Sir Billy Connolly and Hugh Grant.

“David was a dream to work with,” Neeson said.

“He was a real collaborator; he genuinely loved and admired actors. We formed a close bond.

“I loved his mischievous sense of humour. You are always in my heart old friend. See you down the road.”

During an illustrious career, Leland wrote two hit films about British madam Cynthia Payne, the first titled Personal Services starring Dame Julie Walters.

The second titled Wish You Were Here marked Leland’s directorial debut and won a Bafta for best original screenplay in 1988 as well as the Fipresci prize at the Cannes film festival.

Leland initially trained as an actor at the Central Speech of School and Drama, and appeared in multiple projects before moving into stage management at the Crucible theatre.

A career in screenwriting and directing in both film and TV ensued, with credits including Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa starring Sir Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins – which won an Academy Award nomination – and Made In Britain starring Tim Roth.

Roth said: “David was there at the very beginning of this crazy adventure. He changed my life, and I love him for it. I’ll keep him with me always.”

Leland went on to direct films including The Land Girls with Rachel Weisz as well as returning to the stage to direct musical A Tribute To The Blues Brothers – which played in the West End and toured for 10 years across the UK and Australia.

Meanwhile, in TV Leland won an Emmy award for outstanding directing for an episode of HBO’s Band Of Brothers and was both a director and writer for The Borgias.

Other awards include a Grammy for best long form music video, having directed Concert For George – a memorial music event at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of the late Beatles star George Harrison.

Leland was a close friend of Harrison and worked as a director on the guitarist’s 1988 film Checking Out.

He is survived by his wife Sabrina, his four daughters and six grandchildren “all of whom he loved almost as much as Arsenal Football Club”.