Danny Leiner, the director of the stoner comedies Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Dude, Where’s My Car?, died Thursday, October 18th at the age of 57. Leiner’s death was first announced by his former co-producer Ross Putman, with Deadline later confirming that the director died following a battle with lung cancer.
“If there’s one thing I can say about Danny the professional, it’s that he refused to let us settle for anything less than our best,” Putman wrote on Facebook. “He pushed us to do what he knew we were capable of. Danny the person was sardonic, sharp, and savvy, with a love for culture and comedy of all kinds. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the world has lost a good one.”
Harold & Kumar stars John Cho and Kal Penn also expressed their condolences on Twitter.
“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,” wrote Cho. “Danny was so sharp, so funny, and a great dinner companion. To his friends and family, my deepest condolences.”
“Very sad to learn that our friend Danny Leiner passed away,” tweeted Penn. “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.”
Leiner made his feature-length film debut with the 1996 comedy Layin’ Low starring Jeremy Piven and Edie Falco. He went onto direct the comedies Dude, Where’s My Car? with Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott in 2000 and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle in 2004. The latter film was named one of Rolling Stone‘s 50 Greatest Comedies of the 21st Century and one of 10 Best Stoner Movies of All Time.
Rip Danny Leiner. Thank you for putting up with that young actor who thought he knew way too much way too soon in his career. ….and theeeeen? No and then!
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) October 21, 2018
Leiner also had a long history of directing an array of TV shows including How to Make It in America, The Office, The Sopranos, Freaks and Geeks and Arrested Development, and helmed numerous episodes of the comedy series Backwash for the network Crackle. The last movie Leiner directed was 2009’s Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. His last credited work is a 2014 episode of the canceled ABC series Selfie, which reunited him with Cho in 2014.