Albert Finney (1936-) b. Manchester, England.
A leading member of the generation of northern actors which took the British theatre by storm in the mid-1950s, and gained prominence in cinema in the social realism of the British New Wave. Finney made his film debut in 1960 in The Entertainer. It was, however, the other role he created that year – that of Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) – which stamped a new image on British cinema. A bookie’s son from Salford, Finney’s characterisation seemed to come from inside the new, young, dissatisfied working class, and with its insolent defiance, aggressive sexuality and self-absorbed cockiness dispelled the dreams of a decent and contented class community left over from Ealing. Finney’s performance in the title role of Tom Jones (1963) carried some of the same class insolence and a lot of the sexuality, and the success of the film made him an international star.
With hints of autobiography, in 1967 he directed and starred in Charlie Bubbles, a film from a Shelagh Delaney script about the disenchantments of success. The loss of youth was also at the centre of Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road (1967), in which he starred with Audrey Hepburn. His career did indeed stall after Gumshoe (1971), films like Murder on the Orient Express (1974) added very little to his stature as an actor. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, he has re-emerged, often with a kind of dissipated grandeur, in Shoot the Moon (1982), The Dresser (1984), Under the Volcano (1984), and Miller’s Crossing (1990). The role of attorney Ed Masry in Erin Brockovich (2000) brought Finney back once again to the attention of audiences worldwide and earned the actor an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. His biggest role after Erin Brockovich came in the Tim Burton fantasy Big Fish (2003), in which Finney played an aging salesman who regales his son with fantastical tales. He continues to work in theatre, film, and on television.