Full Monty actor Tom Wilkinson dies aged 75

Full Monty actor Tom Wilkinson dies aged 75

The Oscar-nominated British actor Tom Wilkinson, best known for his role in The Full Monty, has died aged 75, his family have announced. His death was confirmed in a statement shared by his agent on behalf of his family.

The statement read: “It is with great sadness that the family of Tom Wilkinson announce that he died suddenly at home on 30 December. His wife and family were with him. The family asks for privacy at this time.”

Wilkinson played Gerald Arthur Cooper in The Full Monty, the 1997 comedy about a group of redundant steelworkers from Sheffield who set up an all-male striptease act, and received a Bafta for best supporting actor for his performance.

He reprised the role of Gerald for a 2023 Disney+ series revisiting the characters 26 years on.

Robert Carlyle, Wilkinson’s costar in The Full Monty, told the PA news agency: “So sad to hear of Tom’s passing. He’ll be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.

Tom Wilkinson (right) as Gerald in The Full Monty. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Allstar

“Such a huge performer, a real titan of an actor, one of the greats of not only his, but of any generation.”

The actor had more than 130 film and TV credits, including the 1998 romcom Shakespeare in Love, Christopher Nolan’s 2005 superhero film Batman Begins, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

He received six Bafta nominations in total as well as two Oscar nominations for Michael Clayton, a 2007 legal thriller starring George Clooney, and In the Bedroom, a 2001 domestic drama in which he played a bereaved father.

Clooney told the Guardian: “Tom made every project better. Made every actor better. He was the epitome of elegance and he will be dearly missed by all of us.”

Added Sissy Spacek, who starred alongside him in In the Bedroom: “He was a brilliant actor and a very lovely man. We had a wonderful time working together.”

George Clooney and Wilkinson in Michael Clayton.
George Clooney and Wilkinson in legal thriller Michael Clayton. Photograph: Castle Rock/Section Eight/Kobal/Shutterstock

Wilkinson also won a 2009 Golden Globe and 2008 Emmy for his role as American political figure Benjamin Franklin in the HBO series John Adams, opposite Paul Giamatti.

Aneurin Barnard, who starred opposite Wilkinson in the 2018 film Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back), said he was “very sad” to hear of his death. The actor wrote on X: “I had a very great time getting to know him and working with him.

“One of our wonderful legends that we say goodbye to. Bye for now Tom x.”

The singer Will Young said The Full Monty star came to his aid when he was going for acting auditions.

Young wrote on Instagram: “Goodbye friend. Funny, bloody smart, helped me with auditions along with (Diana Hardcastle) and what a terrific actor. British acting royalty, I salute you dear Tom xxx.”

Wilkinson, who was born in Leeds, trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada). In 1986, he got his first major screen role in the mini-series First Among Equals, based on Jeffrey Archer’s bestselling novel, alongside Diana Hardcastle.

The couple married in 1988 and have two daughters. They also played on-screen husband and wife in The Kennedys in 2011 and in the 2014 action film Good People.

Wilkinson was known for his versatility, from period dramas such as 1995’s Sense and Sensibility to Rush Hour opposite Jackie Chan in 1998 and Guy Ritchie’s gangster film RocknRolla in 2008.

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, the Briton rejected the suggestion that stardom came relatively late. He said: “I’ve always been quite successful. I was a leading performer in stage, and getting great roles on television.

“I saw a lot of my friends doing films, and there’s a bit of you that says: ‘I want to sit down with the big boys.’”

The actor also provided the voice of the fox in the TV adaptation of children’s bestselling book The Gruffalo.

In the 2005 new year honours, Wilkinson was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama.

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