Oscar Actors: Wilkinson, Tom–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 15, 2020
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Thomas Geoffrey Wilkinson OBE (February 5, 1948) is an English actor. He has twice been nominated for an Academy Award, for his roles in In the Bedroom (2001) and Michael Clayton (2007).

In 2009, he won Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Film for playing Benjamin Franklin in “John Adams.”

Wilkinson was born in Wharfedale, West Riding of Yorkshire, the son of Marjorie and Thomas Wilkinson, a farmer.

At the age of four, he moved with his family to Canada, where they lived for several years before returning to the United Kingdom and running a pub in Cornwall. Wilkinson graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury,[8] where he was a member of T24 Drama Society (then named UKCD) and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Wilkinson made his acting debut in 1976 and worked on several British television series, most notably the mini-series First Among Equals (1986). He first gained critical acclaim with his appearance as Mr Pecksniff, in the BBC’s 1994 adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit. Wilkinson made only the occasional film, including a brief appearance in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility and a villain in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996). After becoming part of the ensemble cast of the comedy-drama The Full Monty in 1997, a role which earned him a BAFTA, he began to take film roles more frequently, including supporting roles in Oscar and Lucinda, Wilde, Shakespeare in Love, and The Patriot. He also starred with Jackie Chan in the 1998 film Rush Hour, as the evil British Ambassador/Juntao.

His portrayal of Matt Fowler, in Todd Field’s In the Bedroom, received international praise from critics.[10] For the role, he was named Best Actor of the Year by the New York Film Critics’ Circle, and went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. That success was followed up by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Normal, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Batman Begins, and Separate Lies.

In 2007, Wilkinson played Arthur Edens, an attorney with bipolar disorder, in Michael Clayton and garnered much critical acclaim and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, he played an uncle planning for murder in Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream, and played opposite Billy Crudup as children’s book writing partners in Dedication.

In 2008, Wilkinson portrayed American polymath Benjamin Franklin in the HBO mini-series John Adams. In the HBO film, Recount, Wilkinson portrayed American political adviser and lawyer, James A. Baker, in Baker’s capacity as Chief Counsel to George W. Bush during the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election, receiving an Emmy Award for the former and a nomination for the latter. He also received a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors’ Guild Award nomination for his role in John Adams.

He also portrayed Friedrich Fromm, Commander in Chief of the German Reserve Army, alongside Tom Cruise in the 2008 World War II thriller “Valkyrie.”

Wilkinson starred in the horror comedy Burke and Hare, which is directed by John Landis. He portrayed a covert CIA agent in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. He played another historical character, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., in the 2011 television miniseries The Kennedys, for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. He and his wife portrayed husband and wife Joe and Rose Kennedy. Earlier that year, he appeared in The Green Hornet and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

In 2014 Wilkinson portrayed the 36th President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson in the historical drama film Selma.

Wilkinson lives in North London with his wife, actress Diana Hardcastle. They were married January 5, 1988 and have two daughters together, Alice (born in 1989) and Molly (born in 1992).

Wilkinson received a Doctor of Letters honorary degree from the University of Kent in July 2001.

In the 2005 New Year Honors, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to Drama.”