A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, where he performed for three seasons in the early eighties. In the late 1950s, he appeared at the RSC's earlier incarnation, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, where he was mentored by Charles Laughton.
Although he was born working class (and indeed, along with Tom Courtenay, was one of the leading avatars of the wave of working class/provincial actors that revolutionized British theater and film in the 1950s and '60s, his was a relatively privileged upbringing as his father was a successful bookie.
An Associate Member of RADA.
Appears, uncredited, in drag as The Matron in the ladies' bathroom scene in Miller's Crossing (1990).
As an aspiring actor in the mid-1950s, he made the rounds with Michael Polley, the father of Sarah Polley. Michael Polley says that Finney compared actors to bricklayers, in terms of craft.
Doesn't have an agent nor a manager.
Father of the film technician Simon Finney. .
Felt the lead role in Tom Jones (1963) wasn't serious enough, and agreed to star only if he got a producing credit; he later traded the credit for profit participation. He later earned an Oscar nomination for this role.
Graduated from RADA.
He allegedly declined a C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1980 and Knighthood in 2000 for his services to drama.
He has one child from his first marriage to actress Jane Wenham. Finney's son, Simon Finney, works in the film business as a technician.
He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1987 (1986 season) for Best Actor in a New Play for "Orphans".
He was awarded the 1986 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in Orphans.
He was awarded the 1991 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play for "Another Time" at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1965, he formed Memorial Films in association with Michael Medwin to produce theatrical features, which included Charlie Bubbles (1967), If.... (1968), Gumshoe (1971), Bleak Moments (1972), O Lucky Man! (1973) and Law and Disorder (1974).
Only person in history to ever call Audrey Hepburn "bitch" (in Two for the Road (1967)), even if it was just his line.
Originally chosen for the title role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) after a screen test shot over four days at a cost of £100,000. He later baulked at the film's monumental shooting schedule, and did not want to commit to such a long term contract and opted to play the title role in Tom Jones (1963), which gave him his first Oscar nomination.
Originated the lead roles in the plays "Billy Liar," "Luther," and "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg," all of which were played by other actors when transferred to film.
Played Michael Medwin's uncle in Scrooge (1970) even though he is actually more than twelve years younger than him.
Rather than attend the Oscar ceremony in 1964, he went on vacation sailing in the South Seas. When informed that he had been beaten as Best Actor by Sidney Poitier, he offered Poitier his heartfelt congratulations. Though nominated another four times in the 1970s, '80s and 21st Century, he has yet to appear in person at an Oscar ceremony.