Tom Conti is one of the UK's most accomplished stage, television and film actors. Once described as the 'Thinking Women's Crumpet' he's also won the odd Olivier and Broadway Tony award, in addition to an Oscar nomination.
To the younger generation, Tom was father to Emily (played by Brit actress Helen Baxendale) in hit US sitcom Friends throughout the episodes of her marriage to Ross Geller.
Preferring contemporary over classical theatre (with nary a Shakespeare stage credit in sight), Tom Conti has been one of West End theatre's most enduring and popular faces of the past four decades.
Initially trained for a musical career as a classical pianist but switching gears while attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, his acting career began with the Citizen's Theatre's 1959 production of The Roving Boy at age eighteen.
Throughout the 1960s he tried to make ends meet on the Glasgow and English repertory stages but gained little momentum despite some scattered TV appearances in between. Unable to find the break to sustain himself, he considered leaving the arts at one point for a career in medicine.
While performing in the 1972 play The Black and White Minstrels at the Traverse Theatre for the Edinburgh Festival, he was spotted and cast in the TV series Adam Smith, thus beginning a more promising streak of work. Tom would later return to the play in 1974 at the Hampstead Theatre, where he also performed in Other People and as the title role of Don Juan.
Following a number of successful English mini-series roles, particularly his slothful Charles Bovary in Madame Bovary (1975), Jewish novelist Adam Morris in The Glittering Prizes (1976), and ever-conquesting Norman in The Norman Conquest trilogy by Alan Ayckbourn, Tom reaped huge career rewards under the theatre lights starring as a paralysed sculptor in both the London and Broadway mountings of the right-to-die play Whose Life is it Anyway? in 1979.
Among the rewards were the Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Laurence Olivier, and Variety Club Awards; among the rewards was a 1980s film career in starring roles.
Despite losing out on recreating his Whose Life... role on film (Richard Dreyfuss was granted that opportunity in 1981), Tom absolutely wowed American audiences with his scene-stealing work in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) and Reuben, Reuben (1983).
He was given the National Board of Review award for his participation in both films, and earned a "leading actor" Oscar nomination for the latter in which he played an alcoholic Scottish writer.
Continuing on the silver screen with American Dreamer (1984) and Saving Grace (1986), Tom ventured off to find other film projects to star or co-star in over the years -- both in the UK and USA. These included Shirley Valentine (1989) opposite Pauline Collins, Someone Else's America (1995), Out of Control (1998), Paid (2006), O Jerusalem (2006), A Closed Book (2009) with Daryl Hannah, a gender-bending version of The Tempest (2010) (as Gonzalo), City Slacker (2012) and more recently, Paddington 2 (2017) and the sci-fi horror yarn Peripheral (2018).