British Oscar-nominated actor Tom Wilkinson, best known for his role in The Full Monty, has died aged 75, his family has announced.
The Yorkshire-born star played the character Gerald Cooper in the 1997 comedy, which tells the story of a group of redundant steelworkers from Sheffield on their journey to set up an all-male striptease act.
Wilkinson received a BAFTA for best supporting actor for his performance.
He also featured in the 1998 romcom Shakespeare In Love, the 2005 Christopher Nolan blockbuster Batman Begins, and starred alongside Dame Judi Dench, Dame Penelope Wilton, and Bill Nighy, in the all-British ensemble cast of the 2011 comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Wilkinson was at home with his wife and family when he died suddenly on Saturday, his family said in a statement.
Image: Robert Carlye, Tom Wilkinson, Hugo Speer, Steve Huison, and Paul Barber, in The Full Monty. Pic: 20thC.Fox/Everett/Shutterstock
Image: Tom Wilkinson in The Full Monty Pic: Moviestore/Shutterstock “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,” a statement shared by his agent on behalf of the family said.
Peaky Blinders and Dunkirk actor Aneurin Barnard, who starred opposite Wilkinson in Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back), paid tribute to the star, describing him as a “legend”.
“I am very sad to hear the passing of Tom Wilkinson. I had a very great time getting to know him and working with him,” he wrote in a post on X.
“One of our wonderful legends that we say goodbye to. Bye for now Tom.”
The Strays and All About Eve star, Michael Warburton, described Wilkinson as a “superlative Actor”.
“Very sad news that one of our finest has left us aged 75. RIP Tom Wilkinson,” he wrote on X.
Singer Will Young also paid tribute to a “friend” and “British acting royalty”.
“Goodbye friend. Funny, bloody smart, helped me with auditions along with (Diana Hardcastle) and what a terrific actor,” he wrote on Instagram.
“British acting royalty. I salute you, dear Tom.”
Across an illustrious career spanning nearly 50 years, Wilkinson won a host of acting awards, as well as two Oscar nominations.
Image: He starred alongside Dame Judi Dench and Bill Nighy in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Pic: FoxSearch/Everett/Shutterstock The first was for best actor for his performance in the 2001 drama In the Bedroom.
He was also nominated for best supporting actor for his performance in the 2007 legal thriller Michael Clayton, starring George Clooney.
Wilkinson won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for best supporting actor for his performance as Benjamin Franklin in the 2008 HBO series John Adams.
Image: Tom Wilkinson won a Golden Globe for the 2008 HBO series John Adams From Yorkshire to Hollywood
Born the son of farmers in the Yorkshire valley of Wharfedale in 1948, Wilkinson moved with his family to Canada as a young boy, but returned five years later.
He studied English and American literature at the University of Kent, where he developed a keen interest in acting after being asked to direct a play.
He later trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.
Wilkinson got his first break in acting in 1976, going on to make appearances in a number of British television shows – the most notable being the 1986 political drama, First Among Equals, which was based on Jeffrey Archer’s novel of the same name.
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But it was his starring role in The Full Monty for which he gained fame and critical acclaim, playing Gerald Arthur Cooper – a steel factory foreman who attempts to hide his redundancy from his wife.
After seeing Cooper’s wife at a dance class, the film’s two main characters, Gaz and Dave, played by Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy, recruit her to help them learn to dance for their Chippendale-style striptease act.
His BAFTA-winning performance in the film was followed by a string of high-profile acting credits, including the mobster Carmine Falcone in the 2005 Hollywood blockbuster Batman Begins.
Image: Wilkinson was awarded on OBE for services to acting in the 2005 New Year Honours list In the latter part of his career, Wilkinson starred in a string of high-profile US dramas, including John Adams, while he was awarded an OBE for services to drama in the 2005 New Year Honours list.
For his final screen credit, he was reunited with his Full Monty co-stars, Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy, in a 2023 Disney+ series of the same name.
Away from the screen, Wilkinson married fellow actor Diana Hardcastle in 1988. The couple had two daughters together.
Wilkinson starred alongside his wife in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – though Hardcastle had a supporting role and they did not interact in the film.
The couple did however play husband and wife in the 2014 American thriller Good People.