Veteran actor Albert Finney, who found fame as one of Britain’s “Angry Young Men” of the 1950s and 60s and went on to star in films including “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Erin Brockovich”, has died at the age of 82, a family spokesman said Friday.
Finney, who received four best actor Oscar nominations and won three Golden Globes, “passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side”, the spokesman said.
Finney was a Shakespearean actor who mixed his movie career with television roles with acclaimed stage performances.
He made his name in the gritty kitchen-sink drama “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” in 1960, becoming part of the wave of working-class actors and writers who revolutionised British film and television at the time known as the “Angry Young Men”.
His gave memorable portrayals of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, British prime minister Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens’ miser Ebenezer Scrooge and pope John Paul II.
Finney’s more recent films include “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), “The Bourne Legacy” (2012), and the James Bond film “Skyfall”, out the same year.
His four best actor Academy Award nominations were for “Tom Jones” (1963), as Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), “The Dresser” (1983) and “Under the Volcano” (1984).
He was also Oscar-nominated for best supporting actor for his performance as a gruff lawyer in “Erin Brockovich” (2000).
Staple of stage and screen
Born in 1936, Finney, a bookmaker’s son, grew up in Manchester, northwest England and graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1955.
He started out in William Shakespeare plays before portraying the titular hero in the Oscar-winning adventure-comedy “Tom Jones”, which made him a major film star.
Shortly before his “Tom Jones” breakthrough, he turned down the title role in the epic “Lawrence of Arabia”, which went to Peter O’Toole.
Finney appeared and sang in “Scrooge” (1970) and “Annie” (1982), in which he played tycoon Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.
He was a regular at London’s Old Vic theatre, which said Friday: “His performances in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov and other iconic playwrights throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s stand apart as some of the greatest in our 200-year history.”
He was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts with the BAFTA Fellowship lifetime achievement award in 2001.