Danny Leiner, director of Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, has passed away. He was 57-years old. Producer Ross Putman, who worked with Leiner on 2014's The Young Kieslowski, announced the director's passing on social media, noting that he died after a "long illness." The exact cause of death is not clear at this time.
Leiner shot into public eye after the release of 2000's stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car, which starred Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher. Putman had this to say.
"Danny was one of the producers with me on the first real film I ever made; he was not only gracious in sharing the job with some newbies just getting their sea legs, but taught us a great deal in the process. And we collaborated a few times after that, including on the film I just finished-which he helped champion for years."
In addition to directing the aforementioned beloved stoner comedies, Danny Leiner also did a lot of directing work for television. Leiner directed episodes of The Sopranos, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, The Office, The Tick, Gilmore Girls, Sports Night, Strangers With Candy, and many more. The director had a unique sense of style and humor, which was evident in nearly everything that he did, except for The Sopranos, which he was extremely excited to work on at the time, back in 2006.
Danny Leiner had worked with The Sopranos star Edie Falco a number of times over the years. They went to school together and she starred alongside John Leguizamo in Leiner's 1992 short film Time Expired. She also appeared in his first feature-length project as well, which was Layin' Low, starring Jeremy Piven. After working on his first feature, Leiner explored the world of TV and jokingly said during an interview that if he directed an episode or two of a show, that it would soon go off the air. The director had a self-deprecating sense of humor.
2000's Dude Where's My Car was made for $13 million and made $73.2 million at the box office, which started to give Danny Leiner the push that he needed. However, it was Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle in 2004 that really blew up. Leiner was praised at the time for working with John Cho and Kal Penn long before Hollywood was talking about diversity in films. Though Leiner didn't direct them, Harold and Kumar became a franchise with two more successful sequels.
Both John Cho and Kal Penn released tributes to Danny Leiner on social media. The actors didn't meet the director until they made Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and considered him a friend to this day, 14 years later. Cho noted that Leiner "was so sharp, so funny, and a great dinner companion," while Penn said, "He was such a funny, thoughtful, encouraging person." You can read the announcement of Danny Leiner's death below, thanks to Ross Putman's Facebook page. Rest In Peace, Danny Leiner.
I am so saddened to hear about the passing of Danny Leiner, who became my friend when he directed Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle. Danny was so sharp, so funny, and a great dinner companion. To his friends and family, my deepest condolences.— John Cho (@JohnTheCho) October 20, 2018
Very sad to learn that our friend Danny Leiner passed away. We initially got to know each other when he directed Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. Sending my love to his family & friends. He was such a funny, thoughtful, encouraging person.— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) October 20, 2018