Jon Finch (2 March 1942 – 28 December 2012) was an English stage and film actor who became well known for his Shakespearean roles. Most notably, he starred in films for directors Roman Polanski (Macbeth, 1971) and Alfred Hitchcock (Frenzy, 1972).
Finch in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)
John Nicholas Finch
2 March 1942
|Died||28 December 2012 (aged 70)|
Hastings, East Sussex, England
|Spouse(s)||1 Catriona MacColl (1982–87)|
After performing in amateur theatre groups and singing in a folk group, Finch did his National Service in The Parachute Regiment and stayed on as a member of the SAS Reserve Regiment, training at weekends and several nights a week. He resigned from the military as his acting commitments became more demanding and stated he was relieved to not have to go to Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation (1963–66).
In the early phase of his career Finch appeared in episodes of Z-Cars in 1967 and 1968, and was the lead character Simon King in the BBC science fiction series Counterstrike, one of the last BBC drama series made in black and white. One of the ten episodes made was never screened, owing to the broadcast in its place of a documentary about the Kray Twins when they were jailed. He also appeared in two Hammer Films productions, The Vampire Lovers (1970) and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970). Finch had a small role in the groundbreaking 1971 drama, Sunday Bloody Sunday.
In 1971, Finch was to have played the role of the Aboriginal Detective Inspector Bonaparte ("Boney"); however he withdrew after being offered the lead in Hitchcock's Frenzy. His highest-profile roles were the lead in Roman Polanski's 1971 version of Shakespeare's Macbeth and in 1972, as a down-on-his-luck, ex-RAF pilot falsely imprisoned for murder in Alfred Hitchcock's penultimate film Frenzy.
Finch also starred in Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) and The Final Programme (1973) (in which he played Michael Moorcock's secret agent Jerry Cornelius). He went on in 1975 to play the title role in a BBC/ABC joint production series about Australia's first outlawed bushranger, Ben Hall.
Finch was offered the role of James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973), but he declined the part and it went to Roger Moore. He also declined a role in Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers (1973). In 1977 Finch was the original choice for the role of "Doyle" taken by Martin Shaw in the British television series The Professionals (Shaw previously had played Banquo to Finch's Macbeth in Polanski's film). He pulled out at the last minute, claiming that he "couldn't possibly play a policeman".
During 1978 and 1979 Finch played the role of Henry Bolingbroke in the BBC Television Shakespeare productions of Richard II, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II, which also featured Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, David Gwillim and Anthony Quayle in principal roles.
At the end of the decade, Finch's roles in films included Death on the Nile (1978). He was cast as Kane in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979), but had to drop out on the second day of filming because of a severe diabetic episode; John Hurt was cast in his place.
In 1980 Finch appeared in Breaking Glass, and in 1981 he played "Luke the Evangelist" in the television film Peter and Paul, which featured Robert Foxworth and Anthony Hopkins in the title roles. In 1984 he was Don Pedro in the BBC’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Also on stage, he was the man inside the bandages in Ken Hill’s 1991 production of The Invisible Man at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Occasional film roles include an appearance in Darklands (1997) and a small role as the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem in the Ridley Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven (2005).
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While filming Diagnosis: Murder in 1974, Finch was more than 40 lbs underweight, passed out a couple of times on set, and was then diagnosed with diabetes after being hospitalised for two weeks. In the early 1970s, until his diagnosis, he was also a racing car driver (single-seaters), but the condition prevented him from getting a racing driver licence.
Finch was married once, to the actress Catriona MacColl; they were wed in 1982 and divorced in 1987. He later had a daughter.
- The Vampire Lovers (1970) – Carl Ebhardt
- The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) – Lt. Henry Becker
- Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) – Scotsman
- Macbeth (1971) – Macbeth
- Frenzy (1972) – Richard Blaney
- Lady Caroline Lamb (1972) – William Lamb
- The Final Programme (1973) (U.S. title: The Last Days of Man on Earth) – Jerry Cornelius
- Ben Hall (1975, TV Series) – Ben Hall
- Diagnosis: Murder (1975) – Det. Insp. Lomax
- Une femme fidèle (1976) – Comte Charles de Lapalmmes
- The Second Power (1976) – Juan de Sacramonte
- Die Standarte (1977) – Major Charbinsky
- Death on the Nile (1978) – Mr. Ferguson
- Richard II (1978, TV Movie) – Henry Bolingbroke
- La Sabina (1979) – Michael
- Henry IV, Part I (1979, TV Movie) – King Henry the Fourth
- Henry IV, Part II (1979, TV Movie) – King Henry the Fourth
- Breaking Glass (1980) – Woods
- Gary Cooper, que estás en los cielos (1980) – Mario Pérez
- Peter and Paul (1981, TV Movie) – Luke
- Doktor Faustus (1982) – Adrian Leverkühn
- Giro City (1982) – O'Mally
- Power Game (1983)
- Much Ado About Nothing (1984, TV Movie) – Don Pedro
- Pop Pirates (1984) – Coastguard
- The Rainbow (1988, TV Mini-Series) — Uncle Tom
- Plaza Real (1988) – David
- The Voice (1988) – Miller
- Streets of Yesterday (1989)
- La più bella del reame (1989) – Jeremy
- The Lurking Fear (1994) – Bennett
- Darklands (1996) – David Keller
- Bloodlines: Legacy of a Lord (1998) – Derek Jarvis
- Anazapta (2002) – Sir Walter de Mellerby
- New Tricks (2003, TV Series) – Roddy Wringer
- Kingdom of Heaven (2005) – Patriarch Heraclius (final film role)
- Ronald Bergan (13 January 2013). "Jon Finch – Obituary". The Guardian newspaper. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- "Old Caterhamians' Association – Review 2012–13 – (Pages 28–29) – Obituaries – John Finch 1950 – 1960" (PDF). Caterham School, Surrey. 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
- John Finch biography at dlife Archived 14 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 15 January 2013
- "Jon Finch obituary". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Action TV Online – The Odd Job Man episode guide". Startrader.co.uk. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Russell Jackson The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film
- Peter Holland "Macbeth and Its Afterlife: An Annual Survey" in Shakespeare Survey, Vol. 57
- Roger Ebert Roger Ebert's Four Star Reviews—1967–2007
- Martha W. Driver Shakespeare and the Middle Ages: essays on the performance and adaptation of the plays with medieval sources or settings
- "Jon Finch: Obituaries". The Stage. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Staff. "His other acting roles". Hastingsobserver.co.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Hildred, Stafford. Martin Shaw, The Biography.
- Harvey F. Chartrand. "No Frenzy For Stardom: An Interview With Jon Finch", Shock Cinema (USA), 2005, Iss. 27, pg. 8-12+46.