Birthplace: Salford, England
As director and screenwriter, Leigh works improvisationally with actors in the early stages of developing a film concept. His dramas interweave ordinary working-class life, social commentary, and humor. Recent films include Life Is Sweet (1991), Naked (1993), and Secrets and Lies (1996), which won the Palm d'Or at Cannes. Leigh's ex-wife, the actress Alison Steadman, often appears in his films. Topsy-Turvy (1999), about the relationship between the operetta composers Gilbert and Sullivan, won Best Director and Best Film in the National Society of Film Critics Awards (tied with Being John Malkovich) and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.