Date of Birth : Apr 6th 1926
Finlay began his stage career in rep before graduating from RADA. There followed several appearances at the Royal Court Theatre, notably in the Arnold Wesker trilogy. He is particularly associated with the National Theatre, especially during the Olivier years and its predecessor, the Chichester Festival Theatre, where he played a wide variety of roles ranging from the First Gravedigger in Hamlet to roles in Saint Joan, Hobson’s Choice, Much Ado About Nothing (as Dogberry), The Dutch Courtesan, The Crucible, Mother Courage, Juno and the Paycock and culminating in his controversial Iago to Laurence Olivier’s title character in the 1965 film adaptation of Othello.
Finlay’s original stage performance of Iago as an NCO left critics unmoved, but later received high praise when the play was filmed and earned him an Academy Award nomination. Critic John Simon felt that the closeups in the film afforded Finlay the chance to give a more subtle and effective performance than he had onstage. He was also seen on Broadway in Epitaph for George Dillon (1958-59), and, also, in the National Theatre and Broadway productions of Filumena (opposite Olivier’s wife, Joan Plowright) in 1980.