OT: Timothy Spall–Beautiful in his own way


“You have to come to terms with what you are. There’s no point in hankering; you should try to be beautiful in your own way. Beauty to me is about being someone who has something to offer the world.”   Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall, one of my favorite Brit character actors. He’s appeared in more than 90 films and a number of television shows.

Timothy Spall, OBE, does not have matinee idol looks. He’s short (5’7″), dumpy, with a weak chin, wonky teeth and pop eyes. But he’s never let that be a detriment to achieving success in his chosen career.  In fact, he’s said he’s wanted to be handsome only once. He was watching The Birdman of Alcatraz and wishing he could look like Burt Lancaster for just one day.

Spall knows there’s a big chunk of the planet that are ordinary middle-aged blokes who are overweight, “and they deserve to be portrayed, too.”

I love Spall as an actor; I’ve seen him a number of roles, from a shaggy-haired 80’s roadie in Rock Star and a Victorian light opera performer in Topsy-Turvy to Pettigrew in the Harry Potter films and Winston Churchill in both The King’s Speech and Jackboots on Whitehall.  I’ve never seen him give less than a solid performance.

But beyond enjoying his talents on-screen, I admire and respect him as a human being.

Back in 1996, Spall, a married father of three, was diagnosed with an advanced form of leukemia and given a poor prognosis. He and wife Shane would talk of a shared dream, to take a boat and explore Britain’s coastlines. It was a dream he held fast to during some very dark times.

Ultimately, he did beat the odds against him.

While in remission, Timothy and wife Shane purchased a boat to live their dream of sailing around the British coastline.

It’s 2012 and he’s still in remission.   He and Shane are still together. Timothy’s flourishing career has taken him on location all over the world,  but he and Shane still take their boating trips when his schedule allows it.  He tries to maintain balance in his life and keep things on an even keel.

“I didn’t know what made me ill but stress had something to do with it and the point is now to head off stress at the pass. It made me aware of things and become more selective. I am less worried about employment. I really do my homework so I am not getting stressed on the set because I don’t know what I’m doing.”  Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall: a man who’s come to terms with who and what he is, a man who has beaten the odds. And he really is beautiful in his own way.

English: Timothy Spall at a Hudson Union Socie...

English: Timothy Spall at a Hudson Union Society event in February 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

8 responses »

  1. Thank you for this post Angie! I didn’t know about his illness. An inspirational man, an inspirational story. Hope the cancer stays away!

  2. I didn’t know all of that! I’ve seen him in oodles of things but didn’t know anything about him. As Judit says, he certainly is an inspirational man with an inspirational story! Thanks for passing in on.

  3. I’ve always thought it was interesting that the movie industry thinks we’re so superficial that everyone we see has to be polished to perfection. In real life, we interact with and love people of all different shapes and appearances and there’s no problem at all. I’m relieved that not every actor who’s less than an Adonis has had to hit the unemployment lines — if they are doing their job they can make us think they’re gorgeous even if they aren’t, normally.

    • Exactly. They said that Sarah Bernhardt could make audiences believe she was beautiful when she really was not simply through her artistry on stage. And when we love someone, we love them warts and bellies and balding heads and varicose veins and wonky teeth and all. The movie industry is often shallow but the in the real world, that’s not necessarily so. And I think here in the US the whole Ken and Barbie thing in terms of casting is worse. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Sue Grafton Kinsey Milhone books, but I always wondered what they would turn this leading character into appearance-wise if they made a film–she cuts her own hair very inexpertly with nail scissors, doesn’t wear makeup and lives in jeans and tee-shirts.

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