Former RSC actor Albert Finney dies after short illness

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Albert Finney received a best actor Oscar nomination for his role in Tom Jones in 1963

TRIBUTES have been flooding in for Albert Finney, the outstanding British actor whose death has been announced today, Friday, at the age of 82.

His career embraced a string of memorable roles on stage, film and television, having born in Salford, going on to graduate from Rada.

A breakthrough moment was when he played the title role for the Royal Shakespeare Compnay at Stratford in Coriolanus in 1959, taking over from Laurence Olivier, who had been taken ill.

Another memorable moment was when he starred in the 1960 film version of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning as Arthur Seaton, the factory worker whose life and love life made it one of the new wave of gritty, realistic British films. He won the Bafta for most promising newcomer.

He also took the lead in the groundbreaking film adaptation of Fielding’s novel Tom Jones in 1963, which won a string of Oscars and Baftas. Finney was nominated for best actor, as he was on a number of other occasions, all without success.

Later years saw him play Churchill in 2002’s The Gathering Storm, made for tv, which saw him pick up a Bafta and Emmy award for best actor.

Other memorable more recent film roles included appearing with Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich and a role in two Bourne films.

His final role was in Skyfall in 2012, the Bond film with a stellar cast that also included Judi Dench.

Finney’s last film role was playing Kincade on the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall where he played opposite fellow RSC actor Judi Dench

Despite his wide-ranging success on screen, he enjoyed an award-winning career on stage. His roles embraced work ranging from further Shakespeare to new work such as The Biko Inquest.

While happy to accept awards from within the profession, he was named in a Sunday Times report on people who had scorned the UK’s honours system, reportedly having turned down a knighthood in 2000 and a CBE in 1980.

Bafta tweeted this afternoon: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Albert Finney. The recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship in 2001, Finney will be warmly remembered for his powerful performances in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Big Fish and many more’.

The Old Vic tweeted: ‘We are very sad to hear of the loss of Albert Finney. 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’.