Meet the Cast

John Newton
played by Albert Finney


John Newton played by Albert Finney

Meet John Newton

The legacy of William Wilberforce is tied to his relationship with John Newton. John Newton, an ex-slave trader turned minister and abolitionist, wrote the lyrics for the hymn Amazing Grace and became Wilberforce's spiritual counselor. He set his young protégé on the path of service to humanity. It was only after Wilberforce underwent what he later described as his "great change" or embrace of Christianity, that he became a reformer. Newton knew this to be true, and invoking the deliverance language of the Old Testament Book of Esther, told Wilberforce that it was "for such a time as this" that he had been placed in a position as a powerful Member of Parliament to secure the abolition of the slave trade. It was in the House of Commons, Newton stated, that Wilberforce could best serve God.

About Albert Finney

Early success on the British stage led Albert Finney to film stardom, after his leading roles in two very different films—Karel Reisz' working class drama Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and the period romp Tom Jones. The latter performance won him a Golden Globe Award®, and nominations for the Academy® and BAFTA Awards®.

Since then he has been nominated three times for the Academy Award® for Best Actor—Murder on the Orient Express, The Dresser and Under the Volcano, plus a nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Erin Brockovich. Other Golden Globe wins were for The Gathering Storm, for his portrayal of Winston Churchill, which also won him Emmy® and BAFTA® Awards, and his leading role in Scrooge, he was nominated for Golden Globes for Big Fish, Erin Brockovich, Under the Volcano, The Dresser and Shoot the Moon.

On television he took the lead roles in dramatist Dennis Potter's final two plays Karaoke and Cold Lazarus.

Since completing filming on Amazing Grace, Albert Finney has worked with directors Ridley Scott, in A Good Year, co-starring with Russell Crowe, and with Sidney Lumet in The White Rose.