Wilkinson received two well-earned Oscar nominations during his film career. The first was for Best Actor in 2001’s “In The Bedroom,” where he plays a Maine doctor and the patriarch of a dysfunctional family. In 2007, he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for “Michael Clayton,” where he plays a corporate lawyer having a crisis of conscience while defending an agricultural monopoly. However, I first encountered Wilkinson on-screen in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.” As Carmine Falcone, the crime kingpin of Gotham City, his memorable scenes include him schooling a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) on the true rot of the world, and being patient zero for Dr. Crane’s (Cillian Murphy) fear toxin.
Watching Wilkinson in “Batman Begins” now, it’s a bit funny to see this very British gentleman do his best impression of a brusque and husky-voiced American gangster. But his scene presence left an impression on my young self, and I recognized him when he showed up next in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” or when I watched “Recount” in my high school Government & Politics class, and then finally (as my tastes matured) in “Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Tom Wilkinson was one of my first “Hey, it’s that guy!” movie-watching experiences; he was what I now know to be called a character actor. If I saw his name on a cast list, I knew I would enjoy the movie more than if he was absent. I’m sad there won’t be any more that include him.
May he rest in peace.