Tom Wilkinson, the actor who could turn a manic lawyer, a steel foreman turned stripper, and roles big and small into riveting turns, earning Oscar nominations and plaudits for his performances in films like “Michael Clayton” and “The Full Monty,” died Saturday, according to the Associated Press. He was 75.
The AP cited a statement from his agent on behalf of his family that he died suddenly at his home. He did not provide further details.
Mr. Wilkinson’s reach seemed to know no bounds.
He received Oscar nominations for his work in “In the Bedroom” and “Michael Clayton” and delighted audiences in comedies like “The Full Monty” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”
He has appeared in blockbusters like “Shakespeare in Love” and “Batman Begins,” and faced horror in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” history as Benjamin Franklin in “John Adams” and memory in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. »
He often didn’t have the notoriety or star power of the actors he starred with – among them George Clooney, Sissy Spacek and Ben Affleck. But he has garnered public attention and critical acclaim through decades of work in television, film and stage.
“I consider myself a utility actor, one who can do anything,” he told The New York Times in 2002. “I always thought actors should have a certain degree of anonymity about themselves. “
However, for many Brits, “The Full Monty” remains his most beloved performance, that of a gruff, unemployed steelworker from Sheffield, England, who plans to make some money and restore his self-esteem starting a striptease act for the group. city.
Mr. Wilkinson plays Gerald Cooper, an aging former foreman who joins the frame partly to escape the ornamental gnomes his wife has erected on the lawn.
But his scope extended far beyond comedy, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in “In the Bedroom,” directed by Todd Field.
Opposite Ms. Spacek, Mr. Wilkinson plays one half of a Maine couple struggling following the murder of their son. Mr Field said he was attracted to Mr Wilkinson because of his qualities as a common man.
“You don’t generally think Robert Redford is going to live next door,” Mr. Field told the Times. “But you think Tom Wilkinson might live next door. That’s the difference.
A few years later, Mr. Wilkinson won acclaim again as a high-powered lawyer suffering a nervous breakdown in Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton.” He was nominated for another Academy Award for his performance in this film.
By that time, Mr. Wilkinson had been acting for three decades, in theater, television and film.
Born in Yorkshire, England, his parents moved to Canada when he was 4, looking for better work than farming. Their stay lasted only six years, during which time his father worked as an aluminum smelter. The family returned to Britain, where Mr Wilkinson’s parents ran a pub in Cornwall until his father’s death, bringing Mr Wilkinson and his mother back to Yorkshire.
Information on his survivors was not immediately available.
Mr Wilkinson said his life took a turning point at the age of 16, at King James’s Grammar School in Knaresborough, where the headmistresses “just decided she would make something of me”.
This, he said, “meant being invited to her house, learning how to eat, which knives and forks to take first.”
“We used to go to the theater together,” he says. “After wandering aimlessly around the school, suddenly someone was interested in me.”
But he wasn’t attracted to acting until he reached Canterbury University in 1967, he said. After university, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where he discovered that it was possible for “provincial working class kids” to open art galleries, lead rock bands , to become designers, actors.
“All the things that weren’t cool became cool,” he said. “I saw the young provincial bohemian and thought this role could be mine. I will be in the arts. You can live a life in the arts. Why not?”
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