The Oliviers, the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards, will be presented this Sunday at the Royal Albert Hall. Among the nominees for Best Actor is Ralf Spall for his portrayal of Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s new stage adaption of Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The production, which opened at the Gielgud Theatre at the end of March last year, received five nominations, including Best New Play and Best Director for Bartlett Sher.
The part was initially given to Rhys Ifans for a May 2020 opening, but was postponed due to the Covid pandemic and subsequently Ralf took over the original West End lead role. The Broadway production, also directed by Bartlett, opened at the Shubert Theatre in December 2018 with Jeff Daniels as Atticus, earning nine Tony Award nominations.
“Ralf Spall is terrific as Atticus Finch… he radiates nimble wit and easy charisma,” wrote Clare Allfree in her Metro Review.
He is named after the protagonist in Francis Beaumont’s 1607 parody THE KNIGHT OF THE BURNING PESTE, a role his father, Timothy played in the Royal Shakespeare Company production and one that Ralf himself played at the Young Vic and Barbican Theatres in 2005. He got into acting at the age of 15, joining the National Youth Theatre. Since then he has created a comprehensive screen and stage career that includes such films as A GOOD YEAR (2006), ONE DAY (2011), with Anne Hathaway, LIFE OF PI (2012), THE BIG SHORT (2015) with Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling, THE BFG (2016) and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018).
He received an International Emmy nomination for his appearance in the British TV series BLACK MIRROR in 2015, and a SAG nom as a member of THE BIG SHORT cast in 2016. His stage credits feature roles in Nick Payne’s CONSTELLATIONS (2012) at the Royal Court, Henrik Ibsen’s JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN (2007) at the Donmar Warehouse, DEATH OF ENGLAND (2020) at the National and Harold Pinter’s BETRAYAL (2013) at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway.
Ralf signed my sketch for me at the stage door during the final week of previews in March 2022.