Jon Finch Biography
Claim to Fame: English actor (Macbeth, Kingdom of Heaven)
DOB: March 2, 1941
Diabetes Type: Unknown
A classically trained actor of stage and screen, Jon Finch is most recognized for his Shakespearean roles and ability to communicate deep emotion through facial gestures, body language, and the smallest amount of language. He has been praised for his passion and talent for breathing life into otherwise monotonous characters. Jon has maintained a relatively low profile in film circles, choosing roles that carefully showcase his gift as opposed to those that garner fame and wealth. On film, some of his more noteworthy roles include Roman Polanski’s Macbeth, Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.
Born in Caterham, Surrey, England, Jon began acting at the young age of 13. His first acting role seemed to foreshadow his Shakespearean fame by having him appear on stage as a Roman woman for a local theater troupe, cross-dressing being a practice that most young actors in Shakespeare’s time had done. Jon quickly received offers from a number of amateur theater groups and received modest acclaim for his ability as an actor.
However, being the son of a merchant banker, Jon had tremendous pressure to continue with his education and attend the London School of Economics. Despite his father’s influence, Jon did not continue on to the London School of Economics, opting instead to join the 21st Parachute Regiment of the British Army’s Airborne Infantry. He served in the regiment for 18 months, until he took a job as an assistant stage manager at the Croydon Repertory Theatre in Croydon, South London.
Intended to serve as a temporary position, Jon quickly found himself enamored by the stage and quickly promoted to stage manager. He soon left the Croydon Theatre to take the position of associate director at the Chesterfield Repertory Theatre in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
Jon eventually made the leap from stage to screen, initially appearing in minor roles and bit parts on a number of television shows and in a collection of films. Though small, Jon developed enough experience to attract the attention of Polish director Roman Polanski. Having seen his talent for Shakespeare, Polanski offered Jon the role of Macbeth in his 1971 film adaptation. Though controversial due to its graphic violence and Polanski’s association with Charles Manson and the murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson Family, the film garnered considerable attention and interest, with a good amount of recognition going to Jon for his performance.
In 1975, Jon traveled to Australia to film a television miniseries about Australian outlaw Ben Hall. However, while on the set, Jon complained of poor health and was diagnosed with diabetes. It did not take him long to return to acting, performing in a series of television shows and BBC Shakespeare films throughout the late 70’s and was even cast in Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien. Unfortunately, Jon’s diabetes prevented him from taking the role and the position went to fellow British actor John Hurt.
Jon continued to have success in television and on stage but avoided film, only appearing on screen for projects he believed to be worthwhile. In 2005, Ridley Scott approached him to appear in the anticipated blockbuster film Kingdom of Heaven. The film ended up being a box office flop in the United States and critics attacked all aspects of the film. Jon, whose performance was strong but limited, left the film feeling discontented and has since avoided high-profile productions. Content with the fame he receives from his Shakespeare acting and past accomplishments, he continues to impress audiences and theater buffs with his rare talent.
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