Veteran British actor Albert Finney, who starred 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 Shakespearian actor who mixed his movie career with television roles with acclaimed stage performances.
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.
“We are very sad to hear Albert Finney has passed away,” read a tweet on the James Bond Twitter account @007.
Finney played gamekeeper Kincade in the film.
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).
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 was part of the wave of working-class actors who revolutionised British film and television at that time.
– Staple of stage and screen –
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.
Finney racked up 13 BAFTA nominations — nine for film and four for television.
He won two: most promising newcomer for the gritty kitchen-sink drama “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” in 1960, and in 2002 for his portrayal of Churchill in “The Gathering Storm”.
BAFTA said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of his passing.
His Golden Globes were awarded for “Tom Jones”, “Scrooge” and “The Gathering Storm”, which also earned him an Emmy Award.
At the London stage Olivier Awards, he won the best actor gong in 1986 for “Orphans”.
Finney had a son, Simon, with his first wife, actress Jane Wenham. His second wife in the 1970s was the French actress Anouk Aimee.
His son and his third wife Pene Delmage were at his bedside in London’s Royal Marsden Hospital, where he had been for the past month.
Finney’s funeral will be held in private.
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