Legendary actor Tom Wilkinson passed away in his home surrounded by his family on December 30. Most well known for his portrayal of Gerald Arthur Cooper in 1997’s The Full Monty, the 75-year-old actor’s filmography includes over 130 film and TV credits, including 2005’s Batman Begins. No cause of death has been made public at the time, and his family asks for privacy during their time of grieving.
Though Tom Wilkinson boasts an intimidating number of acting credits on-screen, he first trained as a stage actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His dramatic chops first became apparent with his portrayal of Horatio in Hamlet when he made his West End debut in 1980. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance.
Though he was busy on stage early in his career, Tom Wilkinson made his first cinematic appearance in 1976’s The Shadow Line (originally entitled Smuga Cienia), an adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel of the same name.
But it would be years before Tom Wilkinson saw his breakthrough with his contribution to The Full Monty, a title that landed him a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. In 2023, he reprised the role of Gerald Arthur Cooper for an eight-episode television followup that aired on Disney+.
From 1997 and onward, he starred in films like Shakespeare in Love and Ride with the Devil.
The early aughts also proved to be a prolific time for Tom Wilkinson, and he received two Academy Award nominations during this time. In 2001, he was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in In the Bedroom. He was nominated once again for Best Supporting Actor in 2007’s Michael Clayton.
In 2005, Tom Wilkinson worked under Christopher Nolan’s direction in Batman Begins, and portrayed Mafia boss Carmine Falcone. Though Falcone’s incarceration at Arkham Asylum prevented him from making any appearances in the subsequent sequels, it goes without question that Wilkinson would have been a worthy addition to the cast if the storytelling called for it.
The wide range of roles that Tom Wilkinson took on over the years is a testament to his versatility as an actor. It’s not every day that you see an acting talent able to act out Shakespeare on stage, and years later perform alongside Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in an off-the-wall action-comedy like Rush Hour.
Tom Wilkinson was known for his warmth and his ability to encourage his co-stars and colleagues to be the best versions of themselves. Michael Clayton co-star, George Clooney, expressed his sorrow, stating that Wilkinson’s presence made everybody better at what they did. Wilkinson also served as a mentor to English singer/songwriter William Robert Young, and helped him prepare for auditions when he wanted to pivot his career from music to acting.
Leaving behind a wife and two daughters, Tom Wilkinson will be remembered not only for his incredible acting talent, but also for his devotion to his family. He even co-starred with his wife, Diana Hardcastle, in the 2011 mini-series The Kennedys. They also portrayed an on-screen husband and wife in 2014’s Good People.
Though we mourn the loss of Tom Wilkinson, his work will live forever. We should use this tremendous loss as an opportunity to celebrate his life and legacy.
Source: The Guardian