February 20, 2024

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Tom Wilkinson: Full Monty actor dies at 75

Tom Wilkinson: Full Monty actor dies at 75

Image source, Getty Images

British actor Tom Wilkinson, known for films such as The Full Monty, Shakespeare In Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, has died suddenly at the age of 75.

Wilkinson won a 1997 BAFTA for The Full Monty, and reprized the role of Gerald when the Disney+ live-action series revisits the characters 26 years later.

It received six BAFTA nominations in total as well as two Academy Award nominations for Michael Clayton and In The Bedroom.

A statement said that he died at home with his wife and family on Saturday.

With more than 130 film and TV credits in total, Wilkinson has been comfortable in dramas like 1995's Sense and Sensibility and 2013's Belle, as well as playing criminal masterminds in films like Rush Hour opposite Jackie Chan in 1998, or Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla In 2008…

He also received an Emmy Award for his role as American politician Benjamin Franklin in the miniseries “John Adams” in 2008, and received an Emmy Award nomination for his role as John F. Kennedy’s father, Joe, in the film The Kennedys. He played President Lyndon Johnson in the 2014 film Selma, and appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

His death was confirmed in a statement shared by his representative on behalf of his family.

“The family requests privacy at this time.”

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Tom Wilkinson (right) played Gerald in The Full Monty

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 these actors didn't just have to be middle-class Southerners, they could be people like me. Once I knew that, I never changed my mind.”

He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) before following the usual path of theater and television work. In 1986, he landed his first major screen role in the miniseries First Among Equals, based on Jeffrey Archer's best-selling novel.

Playing alongside him was Diana Hardcastle. The couple married in 1988, and also went on to play husband and wife in 2011's The Kennedys, and in the 2014 action film Good People. The couple had two daughters, Alice and Molly.

Image source, Getty Images

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Wilkinson and his wife Diana pictured at the 2002 Academy Awards

When he played Peksniff in Martin Chuzzlewit for the BBC in 1994, Wilkinson said: “I looked at him and thought, I can't get any better than that. It came out exactly as I intended it to. He won.” “Two awards and I thought I could act, there's no doubt.”

Three years later, he is chosen as a former factory foreman who joins his unemployed colleagues in organizing a strip show in The Full Monty.

“I was simultaneously offered a starring role in a TV series and a possible part in a low-budget film.” He told The Guardian.

“I remember calling a friend of mine and he said, ‘Take the TV, take the TV.’ But I didn’t follow his advice, and the TV turned out to be bad.”

At the same time, the low-budget film turned out to be the highest-grossing British film up to that point, and took his career to a new level on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wilkinson received significant critical acclaim for Todd Field's 2001 American domestic drama In the Bedroom, in which he played a bereaved father. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

He later said he hoped the film would do two things for him. “One, [prove] I can play the lead role in a movie. Second, I can play an American lead role. And I did both of those things.”

The actor received his second Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in Tony Gilroy's 2007 legal thriller Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney.

Image source, Getty Images

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He appeared opposite George Clooney in the 2007 film Michael Clayton

Wilkinson's other credits included Batman Begins, The Patriot, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Gathering Storm, The 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 long-term agent Lou Colson 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. “I like to go to Waitrose and not be recognized,” he said in an interview.

In the 2005 New Year Honors, Wilkinson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama.