MI6 profiles Albert Finney, who will appear as a British government official in the forthcoming adventure, "Skyfall"...

Meet The Cast - Albert Finney

12th February 2012


Albert Finney was born to father Albert Sr. and mother Alice on May 9th 1936 in Salford, Lancashire, UK. The performance bug caught Finney at age 12 when he participated in a school production and his dreams were fixated on the acting profession from then on - so much so that he failed five of his GCE exams.

Finney spent his school years between 12 and 18 performing in local and school productions, clocking up an impressive 15 productions in the period.

Age 18 he auditioned and was admitted to London's famous RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). Finney gave a memorable performance in "Caesar and Cleopatra" whilst studying and followed this up with the title role in two Shakespeare productions: "Othello" and "Macbeth". He first performed on a professional London stage age 22 when Albert appeared in "The Party", a drama penned by Welsh actress and playwright Jane Arden.

At RADA the up-and-coming actor trained alongside some of his most distinguished peers, namely, Alan Bates and Peter O'Toole. Whilst at the dramatic art's college Finney won the Gertrude Lawrence Scholarship, which honours the memory of the actress who made her name in the silent era of British film.

Out of school, the actor began to carve out a career appearing in several distinguished productions of the Shakespearian classics and soon became understudy to Laurence Olivier when Olivier was performing at the spiritual home of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon. By 1959 and age 24 Finney had won lead roles in Stratford-upon-Avon productions in his own right.

 
Datastream
Name: Albert Finney
Character: [CLASSIFIED]
Film: Skyfall
Awards: 5 Oscar nominations, 3 BAFTAs, 1 Berlin Film Festival Award, 1 Boston Critics Award, 1 Emmy, 1 Evening Standard British Film Award
Hair: Grey/Brown
Eyes: Blue

The following year Albert won the first of many film roles. He appeared in the 1960 feature film adaptation of the Tony Richardson play, "The Entertainer". Richardson helmed the production and a young Harry Saltzman produced the picture. Leading the cast was Finney's old friend and colleague: Laurence Olivier. This production was closely followed up with a film that would set Finney on a path to fame. His rough background and upbringing in the working town of Salford lead to Albert auditioning and winning the lead role in the pioneering realist picture "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning". Finney shared the screen on this occasion with "The Entertainer" co-star Shirley Anne Field in a film that saw him portray a machinist at a Nottingham factory.

On the strength of this performance the actor won the title role in "Tom Jones" (1963), again overseen by Tony Richardson. Australian Diane Cilento, then current wife of Bond star Sean Connery, played Molly Seagrim. Finney's performance in "Tom Jones" won him his first of many Oscar nominations - this time for Best Actor. He was also given the kudos of a Golden Globe and a BAFTA nomination.

Finney and Richardson continued their successful partnership on the stage with the 1963 production of "Luther" and the following year the now-successful actor tried his hand at producing, taking a background role, as well as leading the cast as Danny, for the drama "Night Must Fall".

 

By 1967 he was teaming up with Hollywood it-girl, Audrey Hepburn for "Two For The Road", wherein Finney and Hepburn play a troubled married couple dancing with infidelity. The edgy comedy was nominated for Best Screenplay Oscar.

Reviewers have often remarked on the diversity of Finney's characterisation and his willingness to try a wide range of roles and filmmaking styles. Despite his lack of formal education Finney has been able to pull off both worldly and ignorant characters at both ends of his career.

Since making his name as a premier filmmaker in the 1960s, Finney has been widely sought after: He played the charismatic Belgium detective Poirot in Sidney Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express". The screenplay was adapted from the novel by "Goldfinger" screenwriter Paul Dehn.

The drama was critically acclaimed and picked up a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ingrid Bergman and nominations for Finney, Dehn and Richard Rodney Bennett who provided original music.

In the early 1980s Finney appeared as the lovable Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks in the Hollywood treatment of the Broadway musical "Annie".

Throughout his varied career one distinct absence is television. Whilst many British stars launch their screen careers via cameos in long-running BBC TV series, Albert Finney's rich career is merely dotted with TV appearances. He appeared in four episodes of forgotten medical drama "Emergency-Ward 10" during the late '50s and did not return to the small screen until Finney played the lead in a miniseries "The Green Man" (1990).

More recently Finney has appeared in Tim Burton's "Big Fish" (2003) as the tall-tail-telling Ed Bloom, the relaxed Uncle Henry to Russell Crowe sharp businessman out of his depth in "A Good Year" (2006) and shady Dr. Albert Hirsch in "The Bourne Ultimatum".

In 2012 Finney will return to the Bourne series with "The Bourne Legacy" whilst moonlighting on the long-serving British spy series, James Bond, with a role as a yet to be named government official with power over MI6 in "Skyfall".