British actor Tom Wilkinson, known for films including The Full Monty, Shakespeare In Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has died suddenly at the age of 75.
Wilkinson won a Bafta for The Full Monty in 1997 and reprized the role of Gerald when a Disney+ streaming series revisited the characters 26 years later.
He has received six Bafta nominations in total as well as two Oscar nominations, for Michael Clayton and In The Bedroom.
He died Saturday at his home with his wife and family, according to a news release.
With over 130 film and television credits in total, Wilkinson was as comfortable starring in period dramas like 1995’s Sense and Sensibility and 2013’s Belle as he was playing criminal masterminds in films like Rush Hour alongside Jackie Chan in 1998, or RocknRolla by Guy Ritchie in 2008.
He also won an Emmy for playing American political character Benjamin Franklin in the 2008 miniseries John Adams and an Emmy nomination for playing John F Kennedy’s father Joe in The Kennedys. He played President Lyndon B Johnson in 2014’s Selma and appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
His death was confirmed in a statement shared by his agent on behalf of his family.
“It is with great sadness that the family of Tom Wilkinson announces that he passed away suddenly at his home on December 30. His wife and family were with him,” the statement read.
“The family requests privacy at this time.”
Wilkinson was, according to the Encyclopedia of British Cinema“a major star character, with a remarkable gift – one among many – for conveying inner pain.”
Born in Leeds before moving to Canada and then Cornwall as a child, he found his calling at the age of 18 when he was asked to direct a play.
“For the first time in my life, I started doing something I knew how to do,” he said.
“I realized that it wasn’t necessarily just these middle-class guys from the South who had to become actors; it could potentially be people like me. And once I knew, I didn’t never changed my mind.”
He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) before following the path to theater and television. In 1986, he got his first major on-screen role in the miniseries First Among Equals, based on the best-selling novel by Jeffrey Archer.
Diana Hardcastle played alongside him. The couple married in 1988 and also starred as husband and wife in The Kennedys in 2011 and in the action film Good People in 2014. The couple had two daughters, Alice and Molly.
When he played Pecksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit for the BBC in 1994, Wilkinson said: “I watched it and thought: I can’t do better than that. It came out exactly as I expected. He won. a few awards and I said to myself: I can play, there’s no doubt about it.”
Three years later, he played a former factory foreman who joined his unemployed colleagues to organize a striptease show in The Full Monty.
“I was simultaneously offered the lead role in a TV series and a possible role in a low-budget film,” he told the Guardian.
“I remember phoning a friend and he said, ‘Take the TV, take the TV.’ But I didn’t take his advice and the TV turned out to be crap.”
The low-budget film, meanwhile, proved to be the highest-grossing British film so far and took his career to a new level on both sides of the Atlantic.
Wilkinson received rave reviews for Todd Field’s 2001 American domestic drama In the Bedroom, in which he played a grieving father. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
He hoped the film would do two things for him, he later said. “First, (prove) that I could play the lead in a movie. Second, I could play an American lead. And it did both of those things.”
The actor earned his second Oscar nomination for his supporting role in Tony Gilroy’s 2007 legal thriller Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney.
Wilkinson’s other credits included Batman Begins, The Patriot, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Gathering Storm, Black Knight, Valkyrie, The Lone Ranger and Denial.
He also provided the voice of the fox in the television adaptation of the best-selling children’s book The Gruffalo.
His longtime agent, Lou Coulson, has described him in interviews as “one of the best.”
Off-screen, Wilkinson was known for being down-to-earth and keeping a relatively low profile. He said in an interview: “I like going to Waitrose and not being recognized.”
In the 2005 New Year Honours, Wilkinson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to theatre.
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