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Albert Finney

Five-time Academy Award nominee Albert Finney is the dynamic British stage and film actor whose career, now spanning a half century, is one of the most accomplished in the annals of contemporary acting.

Though widely known and praised for inspired performances in such films as Tom Jones, Night Must Fall, Two for the Road, Murder on the Orient Express, Shoot the Moon, The Dresser, Under the Volcano and Erin Brockovich, Finney first achieved acclaim for his work on the classical theatre stage.

After studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (accepted when he was just 17), the Salford, Lancashire, England, native joined the Birmingham Repertory Company and made his London debut in the company's production of Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra in 1956. During his two years with the BRC, he debuted in the West End opposite Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester in The Party, then starred in the title roles of Macbeth and Othello before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959 for the centenary anniversary season at Stratford-on-Avon.

There, he essayed such roles as Cassio in Othello (directed by Tony Richardson, with Paul Robeson playing the title character), Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream (again working with the legendary Laughton) and understudying another English stage legend, Laurence Olivier, in Coriolanus, receiving critical acclaim when he briefly took over the lead.

While he continued to triumph on the English stage (in such plays as The Lily White Boys and, especially, Billy Liar with the Royal Court Theatre), movies beckoned, with 1960 becoming a watershed year for the acting talent. Finney played the small part of Olivier's son, Mick Rice, in The Entertainer (reuniting with director Tony Richardson), then won critical acclaim and enormous success as the brawling, nonconformist factory worker, Arthur Seaton, in Karel Reisz's milestone in British realist cinema, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Only his second motion picture role, Finney's performance earned him two BAFTA nods (one as Best Actor, the other, winning as Most Promising Newcomer), as well as the Best Actor prize from the National Board of Review.

That role led Richardson to cast the then 26-year-old as Henry Fielding's rakish, picaresque, bawdy Tom Jones. The 1963 film, which won four Oscars, including Best Picture, and earned Finney his first of five Academy Award nominations, cemented his international stardom. Additionally, he collected his third (of thirteen) BAFTA nomination, the New York Film Critics honor and two Golden Globe nods -- Best Actor/Comedy or Musical, and Best Male Newcomer (which he won).

After the huge success of Tom Jones, Finney returned to films (after a sojourn back on the stage) with Reisz's 1964 drama, Night Must Fall (which the actor also produced), followed by Stanley Donen's classic 1967 romantic drama, Two for the Road, in which he starred opposite the luminous Audrey Hepburn. That same year, Finney stepped behind the camera for his directorial debut on Charlie Bubbles, which also marked the debut of actress Liza Minnelli.

Over the ensuing years, Finney has commanded the motion picture screen in such projects as Sidney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express (Oscar and BAFTA nominations), Ridley Scott's The Duellists (the first of four collaborations with Scott), Ronald Neame's Scrooge (BAFTA nomination), Alan Parker's Shoot the Moon (BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations), Stephen Frears' Gumshoe (BAFTA nod) Peter Yates' The Dresser (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, as well as the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival), John Huston's musical Annie and his drama Under the Volcano (Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award), Alan J. Pakula's Orphans (a role he originated on the London stage), the Coen Bros.' Miller's Crossing, Mike Figgis' The Browning Version (produced by Ridley Scott), Yates' The Run in the Country, Bruce Bereford's Rich in Love, Steven Soderbergh's Traffic and Erin Brockovich (Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations). He recently reteamed with Burton, providing the voice for one of the animated characters in his highly-anticipted feature, Corpse Bride, and just completed work on Michael Apted's 18th historical drama, Amazing Grace.

No less accomplished on the small screen, Finney delivered award-winning performances in such telefilms and miniseries as HBO's The Gathering Storm (winning BAFTA, Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for his portrayal of Sir Winston Churchill in the feature produced by Ridley Scott), A Rather English Marriage (BAFTA nomination), Karaoke and Cold Lazarus (combined BAFTA nomination for both 1996 Dennis Potter telefilms), The Green Man (BAFTA nomination), The Biko Inquest (his second directorial effort, for which he collected a CableACE nomination for his performance), HBO's The Image (his first Emmy nomination), and CBS-TV's Pope John Paul II, playing the title role.

In addition to producing the 1964 feature Night Must Fall, Finney also produced (under his Memorial Enterprises Productions banner) Charlie Bubbles, Lindsay Anderson's If... and O Lucky Man! and Frears' Gumshoe.

Even with his success on the big screen, Finney never abandoned his stage roots, continuing 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 won Tony Award nominations for Luther (1964) and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1968), and also starred onstage in Armstrong's Last Goodnight, Love for Love, Strindberg's Miss Julie, Black Comedy, The Country Wife, Alpha Beta, Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, Cromwell, Tamburlaine the Great, Another Time and, his last stage appearance in 1997, Art, which preceded the 1998 Tony Award-winning Broadway run. He won Olivier Awards for A Flea in Her Ear and Orphans and the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Osborne's Luther.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2006.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Albert Finney Facts

BirthdayMay 9, 1936 (87)
BirthplaceSalford, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 9" (1m75)  How tall is Albert Finney compared to you?
Awards2003 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Mini-Series or a TV Film (for The Gathering Storm)
2002 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie (for The Gathering Storm)
2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Best Female Actor in a Leading Role (for Erin Brockovich)
1971 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical (for Scrooge)

Selected Filmography

Not available.