Malcolm McDowell Reveals First Meeting Albert Finney and His Unforgettable Compliment

Courtesy of Photofest
Albert Finney

The actor pays tribute to his friend, who died Feb. 7, calling him "the finest British actor that we had."

I remember very well our first meeting. He'd just done Tom Jones and was on a world tour and had come back to England and visited the set of a [1968] movie I'd been acting in — it was my first film, called If … about a rebellion in a boys school — and he came up to me and said, "You've got a very interesting face." You don't forget a thing like that.

I was in my early 20s, and my generation was in awe of him. We never ended up acting together, but we did become friends. And he had a great life. He was quite a ladies man, and he loved food and he loved wine. He would gorge himself at restaurants, but when a part came, he'd check into a fat farm and get back into fighting weight.

I remember having lunch with him at one point, and he said, "It used to take a week to lose the weight, now it takes two." But he was really a lovely man. To me, he was the finest British actor that we had.

Albert Finney died Feb. 7 following a short illness at age 82.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.