PROFILE
Name:
Albert Finney
Birth Date:
May 9, 1936
Birth Place:
Salford, Greater Manchester, England, UK
Nationality:
British
Famous for:
His role as Hercule Poirot in 'Murder On The Orient Express' (1974)
BIOGRAPHY
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Hercule Poirot

Background:

Five-time Academy Award-nominated English actor Albert Finney, who rose to film star fame with his definitive portrayal of the working class rebel in ''Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'' (1960), has been nominated for the coveted award for his performances in the films ''Tom Jones'' (1963), ''Murder on the Orient Express'' (1974; as Detective Hercule Poirot), ''The Dresser'' (1983), ''Under the Volcano'' (1984; all four for Best Actor category), and ''Erin Brockovich'' (2000; for Best Supporting Actor). His later film work included "Delivering Milo" (2001), "The Gathering Storm" (2002; TV), "Big Fish" (2003), "Corpse Bride" (2005; voice), "A Good Year" (2006), "Amazing Grace" (2006), "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007) and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007).

A graduate and an associate member of RADA, Finney's stage work also received critical acclaim. He was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic): in 1964 for playing the title character of Martin Luther in John Osborne's "Luther," and in 1968 for Peter Nichols' "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg."

"I'm not the romantic type. I'm a bit like the late, great Peter Sellers, only happy in character roles." Albert Finney

On a more personal note, the 5' 9" stage and screen star was romantically involved with screen legend Audrey Hepburn during the filming of their film "Two for the Road" (1967) and had a relationship with Zoe Caldwell (1959-1960) and Pene Delmage (together since 1990). He was married to British actress Jane Wenham, French actress Anouk Aimee, and Katherine Attson.


Albie

Childhood and Family:

In the working class town of Salford, Greater Manchester, England, Albert Finney, nicknamed ''Albie,'' was born on May 9, 1936, to Alice (Hobson) and Albert Finney, Sr., a bookmaker. Although he was born working class, he had a relatively privileged upbringing as his father was a successful bookie.

Finney attended Salford Grammar School in Salford, England, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, England, where his classmates included Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole. He graduated in 1955 and became an Associate Member of RADA. He is also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, where he performed for three seasons in the early eighties.

Finney was married to British actress Jane Wenham (born November 26, 1927) from 1957 to 1961 and they have one son, Simon, who works in the film business as a technician. From August 7, 1970, to 1978, Finney was married to Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe-winning French film actress Anouk Aimee (born April 27, 1932), daughter of the actress Geneviève Sorya. He also had one son in 1990 with Katherine Attson, whom he was married to from 1989 to 1991. His son, Declan Finney, currently studies at Colchester Sixth Form College and lives with his mother.

Finney allegedly declined a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) honor in 1980 and a Knighthood in 2000.

"Call me Sir if you like! Maybe people in America think being a Sir is a big deal. But I think we should all be Misters together. I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery. And it also helps keep us 'quaint,’ which I'm not a great fan of. You don't get much with the title anymore. That was all carved up by the robber barons in the Middle Ages." Albert Finney


Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Career:

Having headlined 15 school plays between the age of 12 and 17, Albert Finney honed in on his talent at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London, England, alongside Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole. He graduated in 1955 and began his stage career with the stock company of the Birmingham Repertory Company, playing Brutus in the company's production of "Julius Caesar," followed by title roles in "Hamlet," "Henry V" and "Macbeth."

Finney made his London debut at the Old Vic in the Birmingham Repertory Company production of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" in 1956, and received positive reviews for his performance opposite Charles Laughton in a West End production of "The Party'' in 1958. The following year, he signed up with the well-known Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon for their 100th anniversary season, performing Edgar in "King Lear", Cassio in "Othello" (directed by Tony Richardson with Paul Robeson in the lead), Lysander in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (he teamed up again with Charles Laughton) and the First Citizen in "Coriolanus," for which he also understudied Laurence Olivier in the title role.

In 1960, Finney made his film acting debut with a small role as Laurence Olivier's son in Tony Richardson's Oscar-nominated adaptation of John Osborne's play of the same name, "The Entertainer." Not long after his debut, he snagged his first leading film role in that same year's film, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," which was produced by Tony Richardson. In Karel Reisz's classic, Finney portrayed the lead character of Arthur Seaton, a reckless young factory worker who lives for his weekends. He was universally praised for his vibrant performance and won a Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles award at BAFTA and Best Actor awards at the Mar del Plata Film Festival and with the National Board of Review.

"I was the first man to be seen sleeping with another man's wife in an English film." Albert Finney (on his character in the film ''Saturday Night and Sunday Morning,” 1960)

Also in 1960, Finney received excellent reviews for his stage turn in Lindsay Anderson's production of "The Lily-White Boys," despite the show's brief run. Additionally, he delivered a triumphant performance on the London stage as the title character of "Billy Liar." Tom Courtenay would later replace him in John Schlesinger's 1963 film version.

After reuniting with Richardson in "Luther" in Paris, the Netherlands and London, Finney, a virtual unknown at the time, became the director's first choice to play the title role in David Lean's award-winning biopic ''Lawrence of Arabia" (1962). However, Finney, who wasn't sure the film would be a success, turned down the role and was replaced by Peter O'Toole. He then made his stage directing debut with Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party" at the Citizens Theater, in Glasgow, Scotland.

1963 proved to be Finney's year when he garnered critical acclaim both for his stage and film work. His Broadway debut, in which he reprised the role of "Luther" in the Richardson-directed play, earned him a Tony nomination. He also received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the titular hero, "Tom Jones," the adopted son of a British country squire who grows up to become a bawdy womanizer, in a comedy film with the same name, which was also directed by Richardson and was adapted from Henry Fielding's classic 1749 novel ''The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.'' Adding to his Oscar nomination, Finney also won a Most Promising Newcomer – Male award at the Golden Globes and Best Actor awards at the New York Film Critics Circle and Venice Film Festival.

The following year, Finney produced and starred in Reisz's 1964 remake of Richard Thorpe's 1937 film that was adapted from Emlyn Williams' psychological thriller play, "Night Must Fall," playing Danny, a working-class psychopath who works for an elderly wealthy widow (played by Mona Washbourne) and plays "games" with her while sleeping with her daughter (played by Susan Hampshire) and maid (played by Sheila Hancock).

After forming the production company Memorial Enterprises Ltd. alongside actor Michael Medwin in 1965, Finney made his directional debut with the drama/comedy film "Charlie Bubbles" (1967), in which he also starred as the title character of a successful, married writer who grows bored with his life and begins an affair with his younger secretary (played by a very young Liza Minnelli, in her first film role). Also that year, he co-starred with Audrey Hepburn as a bickering married couple in Stanley Donen's Oscar-nominated romantic drama/comedy film "Two for the Road."

1968 saw Finney's Memorial Enterprises produce Lindsay Anderson's "if...", a cult film that brought stardom to Malcolm McDowell. That same year, Finney also returned to Broadway and received his second Tony nomination for his performance in "A Day in the Life of Joe Egg."

Entering the new decade, Finney portrayed the title character in Ronald Neame's musical film, "Scrooge," an adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic 1843 story, "A Christmas Carol." For his performance, Finney won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actor – Musical/Comedy.

Two years later, Finney served as an associate artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre and directed several plays. Meanwhile, his production company, Memorial Enterprises, also helped produce Anderson's 1973 surreal British film, "O Lucky Man!," which stars Malcolm McDowell.

In 1974, Finney garnered a second Best Actor Oscar nomination for his turn as the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot in Sidney Lumet's all-star adaptation of the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie, "Murder on the Orient Express." The role also nominated him for a BAFTA award and won a Best Actor at the Evening Standard British Film.

Afterward, Finney joined the National Theatre, in London, and focused more on stage work. From 1974 to 1981, he appeared in film only once, in a small role in Ridley Scott's directional debut "The Duellists" (1977; starring Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel). He also recorded "Albert Finney's Album" (Motown Records) in 1977.

In 1981, Finney teamed up with Diane Keaton in Alan Parker's look at a disintegrating marriage, "Shoot the Moon." The following year, he reportedly pocketed $1 million to portray Daddy Olivier Warbucks in John Huston's film version of the popular 1977 stage musical, "Annie."

Finney co-starred with fellow RADA alumni Tom Courtenay in Peter Yates' film version of Ronald Harwood's successful West End and Broadway play, "The Dresser" (1983), and both actors earned Oscar nominations for Best Actor. Finney, who portrayed Sir, the aging manager and lead actor of the troupe who begins to come undone from the pressure of touring in bombed-out England, also received nominations at the BAFTA and Golden Globes, as well as won a Best Actor award at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Afterward, Finney formed a theater company with actors Richard Johnson and Diana Rigg and acted in the title role of the CBS TV-movie "Pope John Paul II" (1984). He received a fourth time Oscar nomination for a Best Actor for his role in John Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1984), which was based on the 1947 semi-autobiographical novel by English writer Malcolm Lowry. He also reprised his stage role of Harold in Alan J Pakula's independent film adaptation of the popular 1985 psychological thriller play by Lyle Kessler, "Orphans" (1987). Finney previously was awarded a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actor in a New Play and a London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in "Orphans."

The early 1990s saw Finney played Leo in the Coen brothers' period gangster drama film "Miller's Crossing" (1990; with Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden and John Turturro) and deliver a rich, rewarding performance as Maurice Allington in the A&E thriller TV movie "The Green Man" (1991), based on a novel by the noted British author Kingsley Amis. He also showed off an Irish brogue as the local police sergeant of a small Irish village for Gillies MacKinnon's romantic drama "The Playboys" (1992; with Aidan Quinn and Robin Wright Penn) and gave a great performance as an eccentric Southern father in Bruce Beresford's film version of Josephine Humphreys' novel, "Rich in Love" (1993; with Jill Clayburgh, Kathryn Erbe, Kyle MacLachlan, and Piper Laurie). Additionally, he offered a masterful performance as Andrew Crocker-Harris in Mike Figgis' remake of the 1951 film based on the 1948 Terence Rattigan's play, "The Browning Version" (1994), which won him a Best Actor award from the Boston Society of Film Critics.

In the mid 1990s, Finney reunited with Yates for his take on Shane Connaughton's novel, "The Run of the Country" and co-starred in the London stage production of Yasmina Reza's comedic play, "Art." He also portrayed obsessive, self-destructive Daniel Feeld in two Dennis Potter-scripted BBC specials, "Karaoke" and "Cold Lazarus" (aired in the United States on Bravo) and played the drunken Dr. Monygham in the lavish six-hour "Masterpiece Theatre" miniseries presentation of "Joseph Conrad's Nostromo'" (PBS). Additionally, he portrayed the brilliant, over-protective doctor father of Jennifer Jason Leigh's character in Agnieska Holland's film version of Henry James' romantic/drama novel, "Washington Square."

Finney subsequently spent the rest of the 1990s co-starring with Bruce Willis and Nick Nolte in a film adaptation of Kurt Vonnnegut's 1973 novel, "Breakfast of Champions," portraying Kilgore Trout, an "overly creative" science fiction writer, and playing a featured role in Matthew Warchus' screen version of Sam Shepard's 1993 play, "Simpatico," with Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone and Catherine Keener. He also reunited with Tom Courtenay for the "Masterpiece Theatre" drama "A Rather English Marriage" (PBS), an adaptation of a novel by Angela Lambert in which he starred as Reggie and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor.

Entering the new millennium, Finney made a cameo appearance in Steven Soderbergh's award-winning crime/drama film "Traffic," which won him a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, and portrayed the title character's boss in Soderbergh's "Erin Brockovich" (starring Julia Roberts in the title role), which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. In addition to his Oscar nomination, Finney was also nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe; as well as won a Screen Actors Guild, a Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, and a London Critics Circle Film award. Meanwhile, he also starred as Elmore Dahl, a lapsed guardian angel sent to convince a soul that life on Earth is worth living, opposite Bridget Fonda and Anton Yelchin, in the David Hubbard's comedy movie "Delivering Milo," which was screened at Cannes. He then appeared in the music video "Since I Left You" by Melbourne-based electronic music group ''The Avalanches.''

The next year, Finney was cast as Ernest Hemingway in Sergio Dow's film version of Manuel Zapata Olivella's novel, "Hemingway, The Hunter Of Death" (2001). He then portrayed Winston Churchill in the historical TV movie "The Gathering Storm" (2002) and portrayed an older Edward Bloom in Tim Burton's fantasy drama "Big Fish.” He also provided the voice of Finnis Everglot in Tim Burton's Oscar-nominated stop-motion animation film "Corpse Bride" (2005) and co-starred with Russell Crowe in director Ridley Scott's romantic comedy film based on author Peter Mayle's international bestseller of the same name, "A Good Year" (2006). Additionally, he was cast alongside Ioan Gruffudd and Rufus Sewell in Michael Apted's biographical drama "Amazing Grace," as John Newton, the author of the hymn ''Amazing Grace.''

Recently, in 2007, he portrayed Dr. Albert Hirsch in "The Bourne Ultimatum," a sequel to "The Bourne Supremacy" and the third film of the "Bourne Trilogy" based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name. The movie stars Matt Damon. He also co-starred with Oscar-winning actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei in Sidney Lumet's crime/drama/thriller film "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."


Awards:

  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television, "The Gathering Storm," 2003

  • BAFTA: Best Actor, "The Gathering Storm" (TV), 2003

  • Broadcasting Press Guild: Best Actor, "The Gathering Storm" (TV), 2003

  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, "The Gathering Storm," 2002

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, "Erin Brockovich," 2001

  • Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actor, "Erin Brockovich," 2001

  • London Critics Circle Film: British Supporting Actor of the Year, "Erin Brockovich," 2001

  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, "Traffic," 2001

  • Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Actor, "The Browning Version," 1994

  • Joseph Plateau: Best Actor, 1985

  • London Critics Circle Film: Actor of the Year, "Under the Volcano," 1985

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actor, "Under the Volcano," 1984

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Best Actor, "The Dresser," 1984

  • Evening Standard British Film: Best Actor, "Murder on the Orient Express," 1976

  • Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy, "Scrooge," 1971

  • Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer - Male, "Tom Jones," 1964

  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, "Tom Jones," 1963

  • Venice Film Festival: Best Actor, "Tom Jones," 1963

  • BAFTA: Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," 1961

  • Mar del Plata Film Festival: Best Actor, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," 1961

  • National Board of Review: Best Actor, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," 1961

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