Sir Thomas Daniel Courtenay (pronounced "Courtney"; born 25 February 1937) is an English actor who came to prominence in the early 1960s with a succession of critically-acclaimed films including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Billy Liar (1963) and Dr. Zhivago (1965). Since the mid-1960s he has been known primarily for his work in the theatre. Courtenay received a knighthood in February 2001 for forty years service to cinema and theatre. Tom Courtenay is the President of Hull City A.F.C.'s Official Supporters Club. In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Hull University.
Courtenay's film debut was in 1962 with Private Potter, directed by Finnish-born director Casper Wrede, who had first spotted Courtenay while he was still at RADA. This was followed by The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, directed by Tony Richardson and Billy Liar, two highly acclaimed films and performances which helped usher in the British New Wave of the early-to-mid '60s. For these performance Courtenay was awarded the 1962 BAFTA Award for most promising newcomer and the 1963 BAFTA Award for best actor respectively. For his role as the dedicated revolutionary leader Pasha Antipov in Doctor Zhivago (1965), he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, being beaten out by Martin Balsam. Among his other well-known films is King & Country directed by Joseph Losey, where he played opposite Dirk Bogarde and Night of the Generals directed by Anatole Litvak.
Despite being catapulted to fame by the aforementioned films, Courtenay has said that he has not particularly enjoyed film acting; and from the mid-1960s concentrated more on stage work. In 1966 Courtenay began a long association with the then newly formed Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, firstly under the direction of Casper Wrede. His first roles there were as Faulkland in Sheridan's The Rivals and the hero of von Kleist's The Prince of Homburg. Since then he has played a variety of roles, including in 1999 the leading role in the theatre's production of King Lear, and in 2001 Uncle Vanya.
Courtney's working relationship with Wrede returned to film when he played the title role in the latter's 1970 production of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. His best known film role since then was in The Dresser, from Ronald Harwood's play of the same name (in which he also appeared) with Albert Finney. Both Courtenay and Finney received nominations for Best Actor in the 1984 Academy Awards for their roles, losing to Robert Duvall. He played the father of Derek Bentley (Christopher Eccleston) in the 1991 film Let Him Have It.
Courtney's television and radio appearances have been relatively few, but have included She Stoops to Conquer in 1971 on BBC and several Ayckbourn plays. He appeared in I Heard the Owl Call My Name on US television in 1973. In 1994 he starred with Peter Ustinov in a Disney Channel 'made for television' version of The Old Curiosity Shop. Rather unexpecedly, he had a cameo role as the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the 1995 US TV movie Young Indiana Jones and the Treasure of the Peacock's Eye. In 1998 he teamed with Albert Finney again for the acclaimed BBC drama A Rather English Marriage. He played the role of God, opposite Sebastian Graham-Jones, in Ben Steiner's radio play "A Brief Interruption", broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2004. Also for Radio 4, he played the title role in Nick Leather's The Domino Man of Lancashire, broadcast in 2007.
In 2002, based on an idea by Michael Godley, Courtenay compiled a one-man show Pretending To Be Me based on the letters and writings of poet Philip Larkin, which first played at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. It later transferred to the Comedy Theatre in the West End in London.
In 2007 Courtenay appeared in two films: Flood, a disaster epic in which London is overwhelmed by floods, and The Golden Compass, an adaptation of the Philip Pullman's novel, playing the part of Farder Coram.
In 2000 Courtenay's memoir Dear Tom: Letters From Home was published to critical acclaim. It comprises a selection of the letters exchanged between Courtnenay and his mother, interspersed with his own recollections of life as a young student actor in London in the early 1960s.
|1962||Private Potter||Private Potter|
|1962||The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner||Colin Smith||BAFTA Award Most promising newcomer|
|1963||Billy Liar||Billy Fisher||BAFTA Award Best British actor|
|1964||King & Country||Private Hamp||Venice Film Festival Best Actor|
|1965||Operation Crossbow||Robert Henshaw|
|1965||King Rat||Lt. Robin Grey|
|1965||Doctor Zhivago||Pasha Antipov||Academy Awards Nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|1967||The Night of the Generals||Lance Cpl. Kurt Hartmann|
|1967||The Day the Fish Came Out||The Navigator|
|1968||A Dandy in Aspic||Gatiss|
|1968||Otley||Gerald Arthur Otley|
|1970||One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich||Ivan Denisovich|
|1971||To Catch a Spy||Baxter Clarke|
|1983||The Dresser||Norman||1984 Academy Awards Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role; 1984 BAFTA Award Nomination for Best Actor; 1984 Golden Globe Awards, Best Actor|
|1987||Happy New Year||Edward Saunders|
|1987||Leonard Part 6||Frayn|
|1991||The Last Butterfly||Antoine Moreau|
|1991||Let Him Have it||William Bentley|
|1996||The Boy from Mercury||Uncle Tony Cronin|
|1999||Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?||Harold Smith||2001, Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, Best Supporting Actor|
|2002||Nicholas Nickleby||Newman Noggs|
|2007||The Golden Compass||Farder Coram|
MY LAMENT FOR THE WORKING CLASSES; Tom Courtenay Says the Welfare State Has Ruined the People with Whom He Shared a Magical Childhood - Now Celebrated in His Remarkable First Book.
Sep 24, 2000; Byline: PETRONELLA WYATT Tom Courtenay came across as lean, mean and perilous in his Sixties heyday. Along with Albert Finney and...
A Love Affair with Natalie - and Why I've Turned My Back on Hollywood; Actor Tom Courtenay on Stardom and His Plans to Make His Mother Famous
Mar 27, 2000; Byline: ANGELA LAMBERT TOM COURTENAY has been a famous actor for 40 years, yet he can still disappear down the steps at...
Dear Tom's No Working Class Hero; ONE of the Brightest Stars to Shine during This Year's Birmingham Book Festival Was Internationally-Renowned Actor Tom Courtenay. He Spoke Exclusively to RICHARD WILLIAMSON about Why His Writing Has Now Surpassed Anything He Achieved on Screen
Oct 22, 2000; IT'S odd to hear Tom Courtenay insist that he never wanted to be a working-class hero. After all, he made his name as the...
The Thursday Interview: Tom Courtenay - I've Been to Hull and Back ; `the Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner' Made Him the Billy Elliot of His Day. but 40 Years on, Tom Courtenay's Working-Class Roots Still Haunt Him. by Thomas Sutcliffe
Oct 12, 2000; Interviewing Tom Courtenay feels a bit like carrying a brimming glass of water over an obstacle course - we've barely begun...