‘Annie’: Nobody Wanted Albert Finney To Play Daddy Warbucks

The story of Annie has been adapted into several movies and even a Broadway show, and it remains a beloved tale all these years later because of its message of hope and overcoming life’s obstacles. Many of the story’s characters, from the titular red-haired orphan to her adoptive father, have become pop culture references in their own right.

Albert Finney, Aileen Quinn, Carol Burnett and others on stage in scene from the film 'Annie', 1982 | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images
Albert Finney, Aileen Quinn, Carol Burnett and others on stage in scene from the film ‘Annie’, 1982 | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

The original ‘Annie’ movie had many big-name actors

The 1982 film adaptation of Annie is the most recognizable to most people today, thanks in part to the legendary actors who were a part of the cast, namely Tim Curry, Carol Burnett, and Bernadette Peters. 

Curry, Burnett, and Peters were all respected actors and media personalities by the time they started filming Annie. Curry worked as an actor in London throughout the 1970s before his breakout role as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (a role which he originated on stage). 

Burnett’s popular variety show The Carol Burnett Show ran through the 1970s and made Burnett the icon that she is today. Peters, meanwhile, was an accomplished stage actor and was also known for her frequent appearances on The Carol Burnett Show.

In Annie, all three actors take their turn at playing villainous characters. Burnett played Miss Hannigan, the grumpy and abusive manager of the orphanage that takes in Annie. Curry played her con-artist brother Rooster, while Peters played his thieving girlfriend Lily St. Regis.

Daddy Warbucks is a key part of ‘Annie’

Annie does have one adult who’s on her side the whole time, though: Oliver Warbucks, the richest billionaire in New York City. Warbucks — played in the 1982 film by British actor Albert Finney — initially only takes in the orphan Annie for a week to improve his public image. However, Annie soon steals his heart, and he takes in her in permanently.

Daddy Warbucks is, in many ways, a hero of the Annie story. One might assume that a seemingly selfish rich person would want nothing to do with a poor orphan girl. Warbucks flips the script, and protects Annie from the dastardly ways of Miss Hannigan, Rooster, and Lily.

English actor Albert Finney, 1985 | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
English actor Albert Finney, 1985 | Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

RELATED: Carol Burnett Almost Lost Her Role in ‘Annie’ to This Famous Singer

Albert Finney almost didn’t get to play Daddy Warbucks

Finney made the Daddy Warbucks character all his own, delivering something completely unique to the role and remaining the most beloved portrayal of the character on screen. But while Finney’s Daddy Warbucks is revered today, he almost didn’t even get to play the role.

There were many actors ahead of Albert Finney on the Daddy Warbucks lineup. Finney had Hollywood experience, but the stage was more his realm, and director John Huston was looking for someone who was comfortable in front of a camera.

According to IMDb, Sean Connery was Huston’s top choice for the role and was even taking singing lessons to prepare. Connery turned down the role when he was approached, however, because didn’t want to appear bald.

Cary Grant would have been in his late 70s at the time and hadn’t made a movie since 1966, yet he was also asked for the role before Finney. Ultimately, Huston went with Finney, and the results were perfect in their own way.