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Albert Finney
Albert Finney 1966.jpg
Albert Finney in 1966
Born (1936-05-09) 9 May 1936 (age 82)
Charlestown, Pendleton, England
Years active1956–2012
Jane Wenham
(m. 1957; div. 1961)

Anouk Aimée
(m. 1970; div. 1978)

Pene Delmage
(m. 2006)
Children1; Simon

Albert Finney (born 9 May 1936) is a retired English actor. Beginning in theatre, Finney achieved especial success as a Shakespearean actor before switching to film. He achieved prominence in film during the early 1960s, debuting with The Entertainer, directed by Tony Richardson, who had previously directed him in plays. He became a leading Free Cinema figure at the same time as maintaining a successful career in theatre, film and television. He is known for his roles in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), Tom Jones (1963), Two for the Road (1967), Scrooge (1970), Annie (1982), The Dresser (1983), Miller's Crossing (1990), Erin Brockovich (2000), Big Fish (2003), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), The Bourne Legacy (2012), and the James Bond film Skyfall (2012).

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); he was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich (2000).

Early life

Finney was born in the Charlestown area of Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire, England, the son of Alice (née Hobson) and Albert Finney, Sr., a bookmaker.[1] He was educated at Tootal Drive Primary School, Salford Grammar School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[2]


In February 1956 John Fernald, principal of RADA, gave Finney his first major role as Shakespeare's Troilus in the Vanbrugh Theatre's student production of Ian Dallas' play The Face of Love.[3] Finney graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and became 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 the title role in Coriolanus, replacing a sick Laurence Olivier.[4]

His first film appearance was a role in Tony Richardson's The Entertainer (1960), with Laurence Olivier, and he made his breakthrough in the same year 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 him starring 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 four days to shoot. However, Finney baulked at signing a multi-year contract for producer Sam Spiegel and chose not to accept the role.[5] The success of Tom Jones saw British exhibitors vote Finney the ninth most popular star at the box office in 1963.[6]

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 directed 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 novel 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".

Even with his success on the big screen, Finney never abandoned his stage performances. He continued his association with the National Theatre Company at the Old Vic in London, where he performed in the mid-1960s in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Chekov's The Cherry Orchard. He received Tony Award nominations for Luther (1964) and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1968), and also starred onstage in Love for Love, Strindberg's Miss Julie, Black Comedy, The Country Wife, Alpha Beta, Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, Tamburlaine the Great, Another Time and, his last stage appearance in 1997, 'Art', which preceded the 1998 Tony Award-winning Broadway run. He won an Olivier Award for Orphans in 1986 and has won three Evening Standard Theatre Awards for Best Actor.[7] Finney also directed and played the lead role of Sidney Kentridge in The Biko Inquest, a 1984 dramatisation of the inquest into the death of Steve Biko which was filmed for TV following a London run.[8]

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.[9]

Personal life

By his first wife, Jane Wenham, he has a son, Simon, who works in the film industry as a camera operator.

From 1970 to 1978, he was married to French actress Anouk Aimée.

In May 2011, Finney disclosed that he had been receiving treatment for kidney cancer.[10][11]

Awards and honours

Albert Finney in 1966
Albert Finney in 1966

Finney turned down the offer of a CBE in 1980 and a knighthood in 2000. He has criticised the honours system for "perpetuating snobbery".[12]

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 has 13 BAFTA nominations (9 film, 4 TV), winning two:

In addition Finney received the 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 nine Golden Globe nominations, winning three:

  • 1963 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Tom Jones
  • 1963 Most Promising Newcomer (Male) for Tom JonesWon
  • 1970 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Scrooge, Won
  • 1982 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Shoot the Moon
  • 1983 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for The Dresser
  • 1984 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Under the Volcano
  • 2000 Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Erin Brockovich
  • 2002 Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television for The Gathering Storm Won
  • 2003 Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Big Fish

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 the Olivier Award, for Best Actor, for Orphans in 1986. He has won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor three times, for A Flea in Her Ear in 1966, Tamburlaine the Great in 1976 and Orphans in 1986.

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.[13]

He won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, for Tom Jones, at the Venice Film Festival.



Year Title Role Director Notes
1960 The Entertainer Mick Rice Tony Richardson
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Arthur Seaton Karel Reisz
1963 Tom Jones Tom Jones Tony Richardson
1964 Night Must Fall Danny Karel Reisz
1967 Two for the Road Mark Wallace Stanley Donen
1968 Charlie Bubbles Charlie Bubbles Albert Finney Also director
1969 The Picasso Summer George Smith Serge Bourguignon & Robert Sallin
1970 Scrooge Ebenezer Scrooge Ronald Neame
1971 Gumshoe Eddie Ginley Stephen Frears
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Hercule Poirot Sidney Lumet
1975 The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother Man In Opera Audience Gene Wilder Uncredited cameo
1977 The Duellists Fouche Ridley Scott
1981 Looker Dr. Larry Roberts Michael Crichton
Wolfen Dewey Wilson Michael Wadleigh
Loophole Daniels John Quested
1982 Annie Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks John Huston
Shoot the Moon George Dunlap Alan Parker
1983 The Dresser Sir Peter Yates
1984 Under the Volcano Geoffrey Firmin John Huston
1987 Orphans Harold Alan J. Pakula
1990 Miller's Crossing Leo O'Bannon Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Roger Waters – The Wall (Live in Berlin) The Judge Ken O'Neill & Roger Waters
1992 The Playboys Hegarty Gillies MacKinnon
1993 Rich in Love Warren Odom Bruce Beresford
1994 The Browning Version Andrew Crocker-Harris Mike Figgis
A Man of No Importance Alfred Byrne Suri Krishnamma
1996 Nostromo Dr. Monyghan Alastair Reid
1997 Washington Square Dr. Austin Sloper Agnieszka Holland
1999 Breakfast of Champions Kilgore Trout Alan Rudolph
Simpatico Simms Matthew Warchus
2000 Erin Brockovich Ed Masry Steven Soderbergh
Traffic White House Chief of Staff Steven Soderbergh
2001 Delivering Milo Elmore Dahl Nick Castle
2003 Big Fish Edward Bloom, Sr. Tim Burton
2004 Ocean's Twelve Gaspar LeMarc Steven Soderbergh (uncredited)
2005 Corpse Bride Finis Everglot Tim Burton & Mike Johnson (voice)
2006 A Good Year Uncle Henry Skinner Ridley Scott
Amazing Grace John Newton Michael Apted
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum Dr. Albert Hirsch Paul Greengrass
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Charles Hanson Sidney Lumet
2012 The Bourne Legacy Dr. Albert Hirsch Tony Gilroy
Skyfall Kincade Sam Mendes


Year Title Role Notes
1959 Emergency Ward 10 Tom Fletcher 4 episodes
1984 Pope John Paul II Karol Wojtyła, Pope John Paul II Television movie
1989 The Endless Game Agent, Alec Hillsden TV Mini-Series (2 episodes)
1990 The Image Jason Cromwell Television movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
The Green Man Maurice Allington 3 episodes
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1996 Karaoke Daniel Feeld 4 episodes
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Cold Lazarus Daniel Feeld 4 episodes
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
1997 Nostromo Dr. Monygham 4 episodes
1998 A Rather English Marriage Reggie Television movie
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
2001–2003 My Uncle Silas Uncle Silas 9 episodes
2002 The Gathering Storm Winston Churchill Television movie
British Academy Television Award for Best Actor
Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actor
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1961 BAFTA Awards Best British Actor Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Nominated
BAFTA Awards Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Won
National Board of Review Best Actor Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Won
Mar del Plata International Film Festival Best Actor Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Won
1964 Academy Awards Best Actor Tom Jones Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best British Actor Tom Jones Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Tom Jones Nominated
Golden Globe Awards New Star of the Year – Actor Tom Jones Won
1971 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Scrooge Won
1972 BAFTA Awards Best Actor Gumshoe Nominated
1975 Academy Awards Best Actor Murder on the Orient Express Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Actor Murder on the Orient Express Nominated
1976 Olivier Awards Best Actor in a Revival Hamlet and Tamburlaine the Great Nominated
1982 Saturn Awards Best Actor Wolfen Nominated
1983 BAFTA Awards Best Actor Shoot the Moon Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Shoot the Moon Nominated
1984 Academy Awards Best Actor The Dresser Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama The Dresser Nominated
1985 Academy Awards Best Actor Under the Volcano Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Actor The Dresser Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Under the Volcano Nominated
London Critics Circle Film Awards Actor of the Year Under the Volcano Won
1986 Olivier Awards Best Actor Orphans Won
1990 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie The Image Nominated
1991 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor on Television The Green Man Nominated
1994 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor The Browning Version Won
1997 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor on Television Cold Lazarus Nominated
BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor on Television Karaoke Nominated
1999 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor on Television A Rather English Marriage Nominated
2000 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor Erin Brockovich Nominated
2001 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Erin Brockovich Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Erin Brockovich Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actor – Drama Erin Brockovich Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Erin Brockovich Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Erin Brockovich Nominated
London Critics Circle Film Awards British Supporting Actor of the Year Erin Brockovich Won
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actor Erin Brockovich Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Erin Brockovich Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Traffic Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Erin Brockovich Won
2002 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie The Gathering Storm Won
2003 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor on Television The Gathering Storm Won
Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Best Actor The Gathering Storm Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film The Gathering Storm Won
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film The Gathering Storm Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie The Gathering Storm Nominated
2004 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Big Fish Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Big Fish Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actor Big Fish Nominated
2007 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Won
2008 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Cast Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Nominated
London Critics Circle Film Awards British Supporting Actor of the Year Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Nominated


  1. ^ "Albert Finney Biography". Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  2. ^ Quentin Falk (1993). Albert Finney in Character: A Biography. Robson Books. ISBN 0-86051-823-X.
  3. ^ Quentin Falk - Albert Finney in Character: A Biography - 1992 Page 23 "This was Fernald's production of Ian Dallas's The Face of Love, a modern-dress version of Troilus and Cressida."
  4. ^ Laurence Olivier, Confessions of an Actor, Orion, 1994, p243
  5. ^ "David Lean" by Stephen M. Silverman (Abrams, New York, 1992)
  6. ^ "Most Popular Films Of 1963." Times [London, England] 3 January 1964: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 11 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Albert Finney: in Character". Quentin Falk. Robson Books. 2002.
  8. ^ O'Connor, John J. (12 September 1985). "TV review; 'The Biko Inquest' on Showtime". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. ^ Albert Finney remembers. 5 February 2008
  10. ^ Eden, Richard (15 May 2011). "Film star Albert Finney won't let cancer grind him down". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  11. ^ Taylor, Paul (30 November 2012). "Actor Albert Finney – son of Salford – loves to come home". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Revealed: secret list of 300 who scorned honours", The Sunday Times, 21 December 2003
  13. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Prize Winners". Retrieved 26 November 2010.

Further reading

Hershman, Gabriel. Strolling Player - The Life and Career of Albert Finney The History Press, 2017, ISBN 9780750978866

External links

This page was last edited on 12 January 2019, at 16:59
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