In his own words: Albert Finney on acting, old age and the Academy Awards

By Alex Green, Press Association Entertainment Reporter
The veteran actor has died aged 82.

Five-time Oscar nominee Albert Finney has died aged 82.

He was born in Salford in 1936 and began his career in theatre before making his movie debut with a small part in The Entertainer in 1960.

He went on to appear in films including Erin Brockovich, Murder On The Orient Express and Annie.

In these selected quotes, the actor speaks about his craft, old age and being passed over for an Oscar five times.

On his refusal to attend the Academy Awards ceremony

“It seems to me a long way to go just to sit in a non-drinking, non-smoking environment on the off chance your name is called. It’s as if you are entered into a race you don’t particularly want to run in.

“All the hoops you have to jump through on these occasions, it’s not my favourite occupation. Walking around in the spotlight having to be me is not something I’m particularly comfortable with or desire. I’d sooner pretend to be someone else.”

On acting into old age

“It’s true that old actors don’t die, their parts get smaller. You’re less likely to get the part, many parts, if you’re playing people your age as opposed to people who are younger. There are fewer parts around.”

On finding emotion in his on-screen roles

“To be a character who feels a deep emotion, one must go into the memory’s vault and mix in a sad memory from one’s own life.”

On his craft

“Unlike writers or painters, we don’t sit down in front of a blank canvas and say, ‘How do I start? Where do I start?’ We’re given the springboard of the text, a plane ticket, told to report to Alabama, and there’s a group of people all ready to make a film and it’s a marvellous life.”

On his dislike of interviews

“My job is acting, and that is why I hate interviews or lectures, explaining myself to an audience.”

On media attention

“I’m not bothered by the paparazzi and I don’t feel hemmed in, I’ve never felt that. My youth, mind you, there wasn’t quite the same attention to celebrities as there is now, but I’ve never felt that”.

On living the life of an artist

“It’s a marvellous life, a gregarious life that we’ve had. We’re very lucky in that way. Unlike writers or painters, we don’t sit down in front of a blank canvas and say, ‘How do I start? Where do I start?’”.

On acting being a form of deceit

“I don’t think that we necessarily lie. I mean, we make our living by pretending that we’re someone else. I don’t tell tall tales. I always tell the truth”.