Danny Leiner, the director behind comedies Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle and Dude, Where’s My Car?, died Thursday from lung cancer. His death at age 57 was confirmed via a Facebook post by Ross Putman, who produced several films with Leiner.
“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.”
Actors John Cho and Kal Penn, the stars of the Harold & Kumar films, praised Leiner via Twitter as a “funny, thoughtful, encouraging person.”
Leiner graduated SUNY Purchase in 1987. His first feature film was Layin’ Low, starring Jeremy Piven and Edie Falco, and he followed that with Dude, Where’s My Car?, which bowed in 2000.
His ethnically groundbreaking Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle would spawn two sequels.
Leiner also was active in televison, directing episodes of Felicity, Freaks and Geeks, Party of Five, Gilmore Girls, Arrested Development, The Sopranos, and The Office.
Leiner’s last credited work is an episode he directed of ABC’s Selfie, which reunited him with Cho.
Leiner is survived by his ex-wife, Margaret Mendelson, mother Anne Leiner, sister Karen Leiner, and brother Ken Leiner.
A memorial in Los Angeles is planned, but no details are set.