Albert Finney, who forged his reputation as one of the most respected and versatile actors of Britain’s early 60s new wave cinema, has died after a short illness, his family has announced. He was 82.

“Albert Finney, aged 82, passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side. The family request privacy at this sad time,” reads a statement.

The actor died from a chest infection at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London on Thursday afternoon, according to reports.

His wife, Pene Delmage, and son, Simon, were with Finney at the time of his death.

The son of a bookmaker, Finney was born May 9, 1936 in Salford, England. He took to the stage at an early age, doing a number of school plays and, despite his lack of connections and working-class roots, joined London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of 17.

He started as a theater actor before making his film debut in John Osborne’s The Entertainer in 1960, and starring as the lead in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning the same year.

Two years later he became a major star after landing the title role in Tom Jones, for which Finney received the first of five Oscar nominations of his career.

Other nominations followed for Murder on the Orient Express, The Dresser, Under the Volcano and Erin Brockovich. Each time he fell short.

Instead of cashing in by taking lucrative film roles after Tom Jones, Finney traveled through the United States, Mexico and the Pacific islands, then returned to the London stage to act in Shakespeare productions and other plays. He won wide acclaim before returning to film in 1967 to co-star with Audrey Hepburn in Two for the Road.

Finney then turned director, with the 1968 release Charlie Bubbles. Written by Shelagh Delaney, the tale of a successful writer returning to his Manchester hometown was evidently very personal for Finney, though it would prove to be his only directorial credit.

In the ensuing decade, the established star appeared in a wide variety of material, including a mainstream musical (Scrooge), a low-budget crime comedy (Gumshoe) and the star-packed Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express.

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He also appeared in a string of high-profile TV dramas, including Dennis Potter’s Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, A Rather English Marriage and as Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm in 2002, for which he won Bafta, Golden Globe and Emmy awards.

His final substantial role would be as the gamekeeper Kincade in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.

On the news of his death, the world of theater and film came together to hail Finney’s talent.

Actor Rufus Sewell tweeted:

The Old Vic Theatre in London also tweeted condolences.

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