The British actor Albert Finney, nominated for five Oscars and star in films ranging from “Tom Jones” to “Skyfall”, died at age 82. With the versatility of a virtuoso, Finney played Winston Churchill, Pope John Paul II, a lawyer from the southern United States, an Irish gangster and an eighteenth-century rogue, among hundreds of characters.
Finney’s family reported Friday that the artist “died peacefully after a brief illness, with his loved ones at his side.”
Finney was one of the few stars who managed to avoid the Hollywood spotlights for more than five decades after gaining international fame in 1963 in the title role of “Tom Jones.”
The film earned him the first of five Oscars nominations. He received others for “Assassination on the Orient Express”, “The Dresser” (“The dressing room”), “Under the Volcano” and “Erin Brockovich”.
In recent years he has participated in several action films, including the James Bond thriller “Skyfall” and two of the films of the Bourne Franchise.
In one of his last roles, the grumpy Scotsman Kincade in “Skyfall”, gave a master class of acting by sharing screen in the final scenes with Daniel Craig in the role of Bond and Judi Dench in the role of M.
Although he spoke little about his personal life, in 2012 he told the Manchester Evening News that he suffered from kidney cancer and that he was treated with surgery and chemotherapy. He also explained why he did not attend the Oscar ceremony despite being nominated. “It seems silly to go there and beg for a prize,” he told the newspaper.
Son of a bookmaker, Finney was born on May 9, 1936 and grew up in the outskirts of Manchester, in the north of England. From an early age he acted in school plays, and despite having a humble origin and lack of connections, he could enter the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Finney debuted professionally at age 19 and appeared in several films made for television.
In a short time, critics began to describe him as “the next Laurence Olivier”, someone who would illuminate the British tables. The eminent theatrical critic Kenneth Tynan called him “a young latent Spencer Tracy” and spoke about him to Richard Burton, by then a consecrated star. In London, Finney excelled in both Shakespeare and contemporary works.
All in all, the young actor seemed determined not to follow the conventional path to the Hollywood star. He rejected the leading role in David Lean’s epic “Lawrence of Arabia”, which opened the way for his fellow student at the Peter O’Toole Academy for what would be his consecrating role.
However, he did achieve stardom with “Tom Jones”, where he captivated audiences around the world with his cute, funny and sensual portrait of an eighteenth-century English rogue.