He was a chameleon in film, taking on a variety of vastly different roles — from "Annie" to "Erin Brockovich" to "Skyfall," among others. After a series of television roles, Finney made his debut on the big screen in the 1960 drama film "The Entertainer," directed by Tony Richardson. He later played the role of Arthur on "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning."
However, it wasn't until years later — in 1963 — that he truly became a household name, thanks to his title role as a good-natured, funny and sensual portrayal of an 18th-century English rogue in "Tom Jones."
The star's death at age 82 shocked and saddened fans Friday who praised Finney for always trying to stay out of the limelight. Finney “passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side," his family said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Finney famously turned down a knighthood in 2000, slamming the system for "perpetuating snobbery," according to The Mirror. The no-nonsense actor was nominated for five Oscars, though voiced his opposition to the glitz and glamor that accompanied it. He never took home a trophy nor did he ever attend the ceremony.
“It’s a long way to go just to sit in a non-drinking, non-smoking environment on the off-chance your name is called," he once told The Telegraph of his reason to stay home.
His final acting credit, according to IMDB, was Kincade in the James Bond thriller "Skyfall." As Finney grew older, the star became more picky about his parts.
"From Daddy Warbucks to Winston Churchill, great career, great actor, great life."
“Mr Finney is at the time of life when he can be extra choosy about the roles that he accepts. These are difficult times for film producers and he won’t even read a script unless the film is fully financed," Nigel Bennett, his agent and lawyer, told The Telegraph in 2011 — after confirming Finney had been treated for kidney cancer.
The actor's death drew a handful of heartwarming tributes Friday.
Welsh actor Luke Evans recalled Finney's successful, and notably lengthy, career.
"From Daddy Warbucks to Winston Churchill, great career, great actor, great life. RIP #AlbertFinney," Evans wrote.
The British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) said it was "deeply saddened" by the news of Finney's death.
"The recipient of the BAFTA Fellowship in 2001, Finney will be warmly remembered for his powerful performances in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Tom Jones, Big Fish and many more," BAFTA tweeted, along with a photo of Finney holding the award.
Likewise, the British Film Institute (BFI) memorialized the great actor.
"We're saddened to learn that the great Albert Finney has died aged 82," BFI tweeted.
Tribeca called Finney "a creative, honest and always compelling actor who made his every film worth watching."
A Twitter account for the late novelist Agatha Christie also posted a message about Finney.
"We are saddened to hear of the loss of the extraordinary actor, Albert Finney. Our thoughts are with those who knew and loved him," the tweet read.
"He was the benchmark I have judged all actors against since ["The Biko Inquest"] and none measured up to his charm charisma and acting genius," another Twitter user recalled. "A man of principle, a towering presence and now, a sad loss. We won't see his like again. RIP."
Here's a look at some other special words about Finney, from those who knew him personally to others who simply appreciated his life and work.
Fox News' Sasha Savitsky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.