Albert Finney (born 9 May 1936) is an English actor. He achieved prominence in films in the early 1960s, and has maintained a successful career in theatre, film and television.
A recipient of BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards, Finney has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor four times, for Tom Jones (1963), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Dresser (1983), and Under the Volcano (1984); and was nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich (2000).
Finney is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. His career began in the theatre; he made his first appearance on the London stage in 1958 in Jane Arden's The Party, directed by Charles Laughton, who starred in the production along with his wife, Elsa Lanchester. Then in 1959 he appeared at Stratford in Coriolanus opposite Laurence Olivier (as Coriolanus), Edith Evans and Vanessa Redgrave.
His first film appearance was a role in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960), with Laurence Olivier, but he made his breakthrough with his portrayal of a disillusioned factory worker in Karel Reisz's film version of Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. This led to a series of "Angry Young Man" roles in kitchen sink dramas, before he starred in the Academy Award-winning 1963 film Tom Jones. Prior to this, Finney had been chosen to play T. E. Lawrence in David Lean's production of Lawrence of Arabia after a successful, and elaborate, screen-test that took 4 days to shoot. However Finney baulked at signing a multi-year contract for Producer Sam Spiegel and chose not to accept the role. The tremendous success of Tom Jones saw British exhibitors vote Finney the ninth most popular star at the box office in 1963.
After Charlie Bubbles (1968), which he also directed, his film appearances became less frequent as he focused more on acting on stage. During this period, one of his high-profile film roles was as Agatha Christie's Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot in the 1974 film Murder On The Orient Express. Finney became so well known for the role that he complained that it typecast him for a number of years. "People really do think I am 300 pounds with a French accent" he said.
While being known for his dramatic roles, Finney appeared and sang in two musical films: Scrooge and the Hollywood film version of Annie, which was directed by John Huston, who would direct him once again in Under The Volcano two years later. He also sings in Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.
Finney made several television productions for the BBC in the 1990s, including The Green Man (1990), based on a story by Kingsley Amis, the acclaimed drama A Rather English Marriage (1998) (with Tom Courtenay), and the lead role in Dennis Potter's final two plays, Karaoke and Cold Lazarus in 1996 and 1997. In the latter he played a frozen, disembodied head.
Finney also made an appearance at Roger Waters' The Wall Concert in Berlin, where he played "The Judge" during the performance of "The Trial".
In 2002 his critically acclaimed portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm won him BAFTA and Emmy awards as Best Actor.
He also played the title role in the television series My Uncle Silas, based on the short stories by H. E. Bates, about a roguish but lovable poacher-cum-farm labourer looking after his great-nephew. The show ran for two series from 2000 until 2003.
A lifelong supporter of Manchester United, Finney narrated the documentary Munich, about the aircrash that killed most of the Busby Babes in 1958, which was shown on United's TV channel MUTV in February 2008.
Finney was born in Salford, Lancashire, the son of Alice (née Hobson) and Albert Finney, Sr., a bookmaker. He was educated at Tootal Drive Primary School, Salford Grammar School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
He has a son by his first wife, Jane Wenham: Simon, who works in the film business as a camera operator.
From 1970 to 1978 he was married to French actress Anouk Aimée.
Awards and honoursEdit
Albert Finney turned down the offer of a CBE in 1980 and a Knighthood in 2000. He has criticised the honours system for "perpetuating snobbery".
He has five Oscar nominations but has never won. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor four times, for Tom Jones (1963), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Dresser (1983), and Under the Volcano (1984); and was nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich (2000).
Julia Roberts mentioned Albert Finney in her Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in Erin Brockovich, thanking him and sharing the Oscar with him.
Finney received a BAFTA award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles in 1961 for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). He was also nominated for Best British Actor for the same film. He was nominated nine more times before he finally won again, for the telefilm The Gathering Storm (2002). He has 13 BAFTA nominations in total, and also received a BAFTA Fellowship in 2001.
He won an Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Made for TV Movie, for his performance as Winston Churchill in HBO's The Gathering Storm. He had previously been nominated for the HBO telefilm The Image (1990).
He has received Golden Globe nominations for:
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
- Shoot the Moon
- The Dresser
- Under the Volcano
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical
- Tom Jones (he received two nominations, winning for "Most Promising Newcomer". See below.)
- Scrooge, WINNER. His portrayal of both the old miser and the young Ebenezer Scrooge earned him "The Best Motion Picture Actor in a Musical/Comedy" for 1971.
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
- Erin Brockovich
- Big Fish
Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
- The Gathering Storm, WINNER.
Most Promising Newcomer - Male.
- Tom Jones, WINNER.
For his work on Broadway, Finney has been nominated for two Tony Awards, both for Best Actor in a Play, for Luther in 1964, and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in 1968. For the London stage, he won two Olivier Awards, both for Best Actor, for A Flea in Her Ear and Orphans.
Other awards include: a Golden Laurel for his work on Scrooge (1970) and for his work on Tom Jones, for which he was the 3rd Place Winner for the "Top Male Comedy Performance" for 1964. He was honoured by the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association as Best Actor for Under the Volcano (which he tied with F. Murray Abraham for Amadeus), the National Board of Review Best Actor award for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and the New York Film Critics' Circle Best Actor award for Tom Jones.
Finney has won two Screen Actors' Guild Awards, for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, for Erin Brockovich, and as a member of the acting ensemble in the film Traffic. He was also nominated for The Gathering Storm, for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries, but did not win.
He won the Silver Berlin Bear award for Best Actor, for The Dresser, at the 34th Berlin International Film Festival in 1984.
He won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, for Tom Jones, at the Venice Film Festival.