A few years ago, British actor Timothy Spall walked into my store with his wife. I immediately recognized him, despite his wearing a cowboy hat at the time. I had admired his acting in director Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies film, released in 1996 and nominated for five Academy Awards.
“You’re an actor?” I asked him.
“Why, yes I am,” he replied.
“I think you do fantastic work,” I told him.
“Why, thank you very much,” he said.
My face turned red as we continued chatting for a few minutes about what he was doing in Vancouver. I thought about our brief encounter recently as I watched the new Mike Leigh film, Mr. Turner, which examines the final years of great British painter J.M.W. Turner.
Spall was recently acclaimed as best actor at the Cannes Film Festival for the Turner role, and by the U.S. National Society of Film Critics, which also awarded best cinematography to Mr. Turner.
Spall, 57. previously played Winston Churchill in The King’s Speech and Wormtail in the Harry Potter films.
Here is a film clip from the new Mike Leigh film, Mr. Turner, Spall’s seventh collaboration with Leigh since 1981:Here’s Spall explaining his film portrayal:And here’s a Tate video featuring Spall, Mike Leigh & others explaining the art research and painting techniques used in the film:Turner was once offered £100,000 for some of his paintings and sketches of Britain, but he turned down the offer, saying he wanted to leave his 20,000 pieces to the people of England. Here is the National Gallery’s short documentary about Mr. Turner:This is a recent photo of Spall with his son, actor Rafe Spall: