Many would remember Albert Finney as Dr. Albert Hirsch in the movie The Bourne Ultimatum and its sequel The Bourne Legacy. But these are the movies which he did when he was in his 70s. And Albert has been in the field of acting at the tender age of 20.
Albert Finney Early Life
Albert Finney was born in 9 May 1936 in Salford, Lancashire to Albert Finney Sr who was a bookmaker and Alice (nee Hobson).
Albert did his schooling from Tootal Drive primary school and later on from Salford Grammer school. He then got enrolled in the Royal Academy of dramatic art (RADA) and graduated from there in year 1956.
Albert Finney Career
Even before graduating from RADA, Albert was already making appearances in TV screens. He played the character Mr. Hardcastle in Oliver Goldsmith’s play ‘She stoops to conquer’. BBC channel at that time were filming and broadcasting performances of RADA’s students at Vanbrugh theatre in London and Finney was among the selected few.
Once Finney graduated from the above mentioned academy, he became the member of Royal Shakespeare company, a theatre company based in Warwickshire.
For two years, Albert acted in a number of plays, with most of them being made specifically for BBC channel. Some of those plays were The Claverdon Road job, The party and Henry V.
Albert also made a guest appearance in several episodes of Emergency-Ward 10, which was a soap-opera series.
Albert finally got casted in a film ‘The entertainer’ in 1960 where he played the role of the Oliver’s son.
His major breakthrough happened within the same year when he acted as a disillusioned factory worker in a film Saturday night and Sunday Morning. The movie became an instant hit, becoming third most popular in Britain alone and earning over more than half a millions pounds in profit.
Because of this, Finney was approached to play the role of T.E. Lawrence in film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Despite passing the screen-test, Albert didn’t sign the film mainly because it having several parts overwhelmed him.
He then played the role of Martin Luther in the play Luther for English stage company. The play was shown not just in London only, but in several places such as Nottingham, London, Paris and New York.
The slump along the way
Albert’s popularity only increased when he starred in an academy award winning film ‘Tom Jones’. He received 10% of the film earnings, which when summed up was about $1 million.
Finney then went on vacation. In his eight years of acting, this was the first time he was getting the break and the actor utilized it fully by visiting those places where Captain Cook voyaged. Captain Cook was Albert’s favorite hero when he was a kid.
But then later on, a slight slump came along Albert’s way. His two movies, the victors and Night must fall were huge flops, denting his almost perfect acting career.
In the line of Productions
Albert didn’t just struck to acting only. Rather, he opened a production company along with his colleague Michael Medwin. It was named ‘Memorial Productions’.
The production company operated reasonably well for several years. It not just made films only but plays as well. In most of them Finney didn’t appear. This could only mean one thing; he was the director of the film and was working behind the scenes.
After seven years, Memorial Productions got shut down. Even though Albert admitted that he enjoyed the experience of directing and producing films, he was glad that it got shut down. According to him, the company wasn’t faring well in the last days and was basically a sitting duck, pitching ideas here and there and waiting for an opportunity.
Albert Finney was casted as a detective in a novel based film ‘Murder on the orient express’. Such was his iconic performance of the said character, that wherever he went he was solely recognized for this. This annoyed Finney greatly, because people were literally mistaking him for being French when he clearly was not.
Back and Forth
Albert Finney once again returned to stage acting. He was performing various classics at the National Theatre in London. After acting in films for such a long time, stage acting felt like a fresh breath of air to Finney.
Then after three years, Albert Finney once again returned to cinema. Because he felt he still appeared youthful, Albert decided not to waste this opportunity and got casted in six films, back to back.
His performance in some of those films were stellar. He got his first Oscar nomination as the best actor in the film ‘The dresser’.
Albert made his debut in American TV as well, playing the title role for the movie ‘Pope John Paul II’.
Finney earned yet another Oscar nomination for his lead role in the film ‘Under the Volcano’.
From 1980s to 1990s, it went on like this. Albert Finney went back and forth, from film acting to stage acting. And then returning back to film acting.
In the 2000s
Happened after a while, but it happened either way; Finney received his biggest hit when he was casted in a biographical legal drama film alongside with Julia Roberts.
He received nominations for three awards as best actor for his role of Winston Churchill in the biographical film ‘The gathering storm’. And Albert won all three of those awards (BAFTAs, Emmy and Golden Globe).
Albert last film was Skyfall in 2012
Albert Finney also narrated the documentary; Munich which was about the air crash that killed Busby babes in 1958. Being a long-time fan of Manchester United football club, Finney felt obligated to lend his voice.
Albert Finney Personal Life
Albert Finney got married thrice. With his first wife Jane Wenham who also was an actress, he had his only child, a son named Simon Finney. Simon Finney currently works as a camera operator in the film industry. The first marriage lasted for a decade.
Albert Finney second wife was a French actress Anouk Aimee. His union with her only lasted for eight years.
In year 2006, he got married to Penelope Delmage who was a travel agent. The couple stayed together until Finney passed away in 2019.
Albert Finney had been ill for a very long time. Since 2011, he was undergoing chemotherapy sessions because of cancer found in his kidney. The treatment left him incredibly weak.
Albert Finney died on 7 February 2019 at the Royal Marsden Hospital due to chest infection.
Facts about Albert Finney
1) Albert Finney declined both the offer of CBE and Knighthood, both of which are British highest civilian awards.
2) Serving in the film industry for 56 years was bound to increase Albert Finney’s net worth in times. At the time of his death, Albert Finney’s net worth was that of $10 million.