Jon Finch, the British actor who starred in Alfred HItchcock’s Frenzy and who had at one point been offered the role of James Bond, died at his home in Hastings, England on December 28, it was reported over the weekend. He was 70.
A stage actor by temperament, though he was able to bring his Shakespearean background to bear with his first major film credit, Roman Polanski’s 1971 adaptation of MacBeth. Prior to that, Finch had appeared in just a few British films. For the venerable horror studio Hammer Studios he appeared in The Vampire Lovers and The Horror Of Fankenstein (both 1970). His role in the drama Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) is notable in that he played a homosexual who was not ill at ease with his sexuality, a rarity for cinematic gay characters at the time.
Shortly after completing his work on MacBeth, Finch was hired by Hitchcock to play a down-on-his-luck, ex-RAF pilot falsely imprisoned for murder in Frenzy.
In 1972, after Sean Connery made his exit from the James Bond franchise, Jon Finch was approached to take over the series’s lead role of the suave secret agent in Live And Let Die, but he passed. That year he also passed on starring in Richard Lester’s big-budgeted The Three Musketeers. Reportedly, Finch was an actor who shunned the attention that came with being a movie star and that may have played a factor in his refusal of those roles.
Finch continued to alternate work on stage, television and film for a majority of the remainder of his career. In 1978 he appeared as one of the many suspects in the Agatha Christie adaptation Death On The Nile.
Ridley Scott cast him in the pivotal role of Kane in his science-fiction classic Alien, but Finch had to drop out on the second day of filming due to a life-threatening case of severe bronchitis. He would work with Scott again in 2005 on Kingdom Of Heaven, his last film appearance.