R.I.P. to venerable character actor Tom Wilkinson

Per George Clooney: “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.”

In the course of my twenty-eight years on the web, I have written hundreds of movie reviews, and in that process have offered compliments to hundreds of actors and directors. Many directors have written to thank me, mostly indie types, but even some big-time names you would surely recognize. But only one actor ever wrote to offer some gracious words of thanks for my having praised his work.

It was Tom Wilkinson.

He dashed off a few words to thank me for what I said about him in my brief review of The Governess, which was the following:

Tom Wilkinson, the father in this film, was finally nominated for an Oscar in 2001 for In the Bedroom. Although that was actually one of his least inspired roles, it was certainly gratifying to see Hollywood finally recognize one of the hardest workers and one of the most dependable actors in the English-speaking world.

That was about 20 years ago, so I don’t remember exactly what he said in his e-mail. I do remember that it was basically just one sentence, but I was impressed because I realized if he did that for me, somebody with no influence in the business, that he had to he a truly classy guy.

And, according to all reports, he was just that.

5 thoughts on “R.I.P. to venerable character actor Tom Wilkinson

  1. Tom Wilkinson was a character actor head and shoulders above most. His turn as Lenny Cole, the blustery Cockney mob boss in Rocknrolla is still a hoot.

  2. So he was a truly great actor *and* a truly classy guy. He will be missed.

    The message is: never, ever waste the opportunity to praise good work. It’s unlikely, but that person may be reading.

  3. Nice story. He was one of those guys who was completely believable as bad guy, good guy, or weakling and always elevated whatever he was in.

    My favorite performances were in Michael Clayton, John Adams, and, I have to admit, Shakespeare in Love (“And look, there’s a dog!”)

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