Brenda Fricker

Last updated

Brenda Fricker
Brenda Fricker (2106633526) (cropped).jpg
Fricker at the 62nd Academy Awards in March 1990
Born (1945-02-17) 17 February 1945 (age 78)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1964–present
Barry Davies
(m. 1979;div. 1988)

Brenda Fricker (born 17 February 1945) is an Irish actress, whose career has spanned six decades on stage and screen. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. In 1990, she became the first Irish actress to win an Academy Award, earning the award for Best Supporting Actress for the biopic My Left Foot (1989). She also appeared in films such as The Field (1990), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), Angels in the Outfield (1994), A Time to Kill (1996), Veronica Guerin (2003), Inside I'm Dancing (2004) and Albert Nobbs (2011).


In 2008, Fricker was honoured with the inaugural Maureen O'Hara Award at the Kerry Film Festival. In 2020, The Irish Times ranked her 26th on its list of the greatest Irish film actors of all time.

Early life

Fricker was born in Dublin, Ireland. [1] Her mother, "Bina" (née Murphy), was a teacher at Stratford College in Rathgar, and her father, Desmond Frederick Fricker, served in the Department of Agriculture and as 'Fred Desmond' a broadcaster with RTÉ and a journalist for The Irish Times . [2]

Before becoming an actress, Fricker was assistant to the art editor of the Irish Times, with hopes of becoming a reporter. At age 19, she became an actress "by chance". [3] Her feature film career began with a small uncredited part in the 1964 film Of Human Bondage , based on the 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. She also appeared in Tolka Row , Ireland's first soap opera.


One of Fricker's first TV roles was staff nurse Maloney in Coronation Street , debuting on 10 January 1977. Brenda's character attended on the birth of Tracy Barlow on 24 January 1977's episode. Fricker came to wider public attention in the United Kingdom in another nursing role, as Megan Roach in the BBC One television drama series Casualty . Fricker bowed out as Megan in December 1990, after playing the character in 65 episodes, because she believed her character had "started off with a wonderful sense of humour, [but] lost it all and all she ever seemed to do was push a trolley around and offer tea and sympathy". [3] In February 1998 she appeared in two episodes, with Megan attending the wedding of her former colleagues Charlie Fairhead and Barbara 'Baz' Samuels. In 2007, she returned for a single episode for Red Nose Day. The episode was written by Richard Curtis.[ citation needed ] Fricker's final appearance as Megan was in August 2010, when the character took a lethal cocktail of drugs to end her life.

Fricker found international acclaim after she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1990 for her performance as Christy Brown's mother in My Left Foot (1989). In her acceptance speech, Brenda thanked Brown "just for being alive" and also dedicated the Oscar to Brown's mother, saying "anybody who gives birth 22 times deserves one of these". For her performance, Fricker was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award and she won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress as well. She rejoined My Left Foot writer and director Jim Sheridan to make the 1990 film The Field , starring alongside Richard Harris as Maggie McCabe, the wife of Harris' "Bull" McCabe. She continued her television work during this period, starring in the Australian-produced short series Brides of Christ (1991) and the miniseries Seekers (1992) alongside Josette Simon, produced by Sarah Lawson.

Buoyed by her Oscar win, Fricker went on to appear in several high-profile Hollywood films, most notably 1992's Home Alone 2: Lost in New York as the Central Park Pigeon Lady. In 1993, she portrayed May Mackenzie, the Weekly World News -obsessed Scottish mother of Mike Myers' Charlie Mackenzie, in So I Married an Axe Murderer , and then portrayed Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character's motherly caretaker Maggie in the 1994 family comedy Angels in the Outfield . One of her last Hollywood film roles came with A Time to Kill , as Ethel Twitty (loyal secretary to Matthew McConaughey's Jake Brigance), after which she has focused almost exclusively on film and television work in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 2003, she played Bernie Guerin, mother of Veronica Guerin (played by Cate Blanchett) in the film of the same name. She then played nurse Eileen in the film Inside I'm Dancing . In 2007, she starred in How About You the film based on a short story about people living in a residential nursing home written by Maeve Binchy, playing Heather Nightangle. Other important roles were Omagh in 2004 as police Ombudsman Nuala O' Loan, as Graiine McFadden in the TV docudrama No Tears about the women treated with the blood product Anti D in the 1970s who had been contaminated with Hepatitis C, and as Aunt Maeve in Durango in 1999, based on the novel by John B. Keane.

Fricker has appeared in Closing the Ring , Richard Attenborough's post-World War II drama, also starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Mischa Barton. In 2012, a high-profile supporting role in Albert Nobbs earned Fricker an Irish Film Award nomination, and along with Olympia Dukakis she became half of the first pair of Oscar-winning actors to play a same-sex couple in Cloudburst .

In 2021 Fricker joined the cast of the TV adaptation of Holding, based on the book of the same name by Graham Norton, marking her first major onscreen role in six years. [4]

Fricker at the 2014 Dublin Film Festival Brenda Fricker 2014.png
Fricker at the 2014 Dublin Film Festival

Personal life

Fricker lives in the Liberties, Dublin. She was previously married to director Barry Davis, until their divorce in 1988.[ citation needed ] She said that her loves include her pet dogs, drinking Guinness, reading poetry and playing snooker (she once stated that she had taken on the whole crew of My Left Foot. "I played pool against 17 of them, and beat them all," Fricker said). [3]

In 2012, Fricker said "Of all the films I’ve made, only three do I remember where I felt I’d moved forward as an actress: Cloudburst, My Left Foot and The Field." [5]

Awards and recognition

In 1989 she became the first Irish actress to win an Academy Award for her role in My Left Foot, in the Best Supporting Actress category. In 2008 Fricker was honoured with the inaugural Maureen O'Hara Award at the Kerry Film Festival. [6] In 2020, The Irish Times ranked her 26th on its list of the greatest Irish film actors of all time. [7]


1964 Of Human Bondage Uncredited
1969 Sinful Davey Uncredited
1975 Upstairs, Downstairs Uncredited (extra)
1976 Play for Today Molly1 episode Your Man From Six Counties
1977 Coronation Street Staff Nurse Maloney4 episode arc
1978–1979 The Quatermass Conclusion Alison ThorpeTelevision series
1979 The Music Machine Mrs Pearson
1980 Bloody Kids Nurse
1982 The Ballroom of Romance Bridie
1984 Cockles Ms KyteTelevision series
1985The Woman Who Married Clark GableMary
Casualty Megan RoachTelevision series
1989 My Left Foot Bridget Fagan Brown
1990 The Field Maggie McCabe
1991 Brides of Christ Sister Agnes
1992The Sound and the SilenceElizaTelevision series
1992 Utz Marta
1992 Seekers Stella HazardTelevision series
1992 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Central Park Pigeon Woman
1993 So I Married an Axe Murderer May Mackenzie
1993Deadly AdviceIris Greenwood
1994 A Man of No Importance Lily Byrne
1994 Angels in the Outfield Maggie Nelson
1995 Journey LottieTelevision film
A Woman of Independent Means Mother SteedTelevision mini-series
1996 Moll Flanders Mrs. Mazzawatti
A Time to Kill Ethel TwittyNominated—Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Swann Rose HindmarchNominated—Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1997 Masterminds Principal Claire Maloney
1998 Painted Angels Annie Ryan
Resurrection Man Dorcas Kelly
Pete's Meteor Lily
1999ResurrectionClare's motherTelevision remake of 1980 original
Durango Aunt Maeve
2000 Cupid & Cate Willie Hendley
2001 The War Bride BettyNominated—Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
2002 The Intended Mrs Jones
2003 Conspiracy of Silence Annie McLaughlin
Veronica Guerin Bernadette "Bernie" GuerinNominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
Watermelon Teresa Ryan
2004 Trauma Petra
Omagh Police Ombudsman Nuala O'LoanTelevision film
Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss Madame AlexTelevision film
Inside I'm Dancing EileenNominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Actress – Film
Razor FishMolly
Tara Road Mona
2007 How About You
Closing the Ring Grandma Reilly
2008 Stone of Destiny Mrs. McQuarry
Beautiful People NargEpisode: "How I Got My Beads"
2010 Locked In Joan
2011 Cloudburst Dot
Albert Nobbs PollyNominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
2013A Long Way from HomeBrenda
Forgive Me Mrs. Smith3 episodes
2021 Cam Boy TildaEpisode: "Take My Webcam Virginity"
2022 Holding Lizzie Meany [4]
2023 The Catch [8] Phyllis Doyle [9] All 4 episodes [9]
The Miracle Club voice of MaureenVoice only

Selected theatre work

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Julie Kavner</span> American actress (born 1950)

Julie Deborah Kavner is an American actress. Known for her voice role as Marge Simpson on the animated television series The Simpsons, Kavner first attracted notice for her role as Brenda Morgenstern, the younger sister of Valerie Harper's title character in the sitcom Rhoda, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also voices other characters for The Simpsons, including Marge's mother, Jacqueline Bouvier, sisters Patty and Selma Bouvier, and half step great aunt Eunice Bouvier.

<i>My Left Foot</i> 1989 film by Jim Sheridan

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown, also known simply as My Left Foot, is a 1989 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Jim Sheridan adapted by Sheridan and Shane Connaughton from the 1954 memoir of the same name by Christy Brown. A co-production of Ireland and the United Kingdom, it stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Brown, an Irish man born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. Brown grew up in a poor working-class family, and became a writer and artist. Brenda Fricker, Ray McAnally, Hugh O'Conor, Fiona Shaw, and Cyril Cusack are featured in supporting roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fiona Shaw</span> Irish actress (born 1958)

Fiona Shaw is an Irish film and theatre actress. Known for extensive work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre, as well as in film and television, in 2020, she was listed at No. 29 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors. She was made an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pauline Collins</span> British actress

Pauline Collins is a British actress who first came to prominence portraying Sarah Moffat in Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–1973) and its spin-off Thomas & Sarah (1979). In 1992, she published her autobiography Letter to Louise.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Megan Mullally</span> American actress

Megan Mullally is an American actress, singer, and comedian. She is best known for playing Karen Walker in the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, for which she received eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, winning twice, in 2000 and 2006. She also received nominations for numerous other accolades for her portrayal, including seven consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, winning three times, in 2001, 2002, and 2003, as well as receiving four Golden Globe Award nominations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brenda Blethyn</span> British actress (born 1946)

Brenda Blethyn is an English actress. Known for her character work and versatility, she is the recipient of various accolades, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and a Cannes Film Festival Award, as well as nominations for two Academy Awards and two Primetime Emmys. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama in 2003.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patsy Kensit</span> British actress and pop singer

Patricia Jude Kensit is an English actress and was the lead singer of the pop band Eighth Wonder in the 1980s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Janet McTeer</span> English actress (born 1961)

Janet McTeer is an English actress. She began her career training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before earning acclaim for playing diverse roles on stage and screen in both period pieces and modern dramas. She has received numerous accolades including a Tony Award, a Olivier Award, a Golden Globe Award and nominations for two Academy Award and Primetime Emmy Award. In 2008 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to drama.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sinéad Cusack</span> Irish stage, television and film actress

Sinéad Moira Cusack is an Irish actress. Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, before moving to London in 1969 to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has won the Critics' Circle and Evening Standard Awards for her performance in Sebastian Barry's Our Lady of Sligo.

<i>Veronica Guerin</i> (film) 2003 film by Joel Schumacher

Veronica Guerin is a 2003 biographical crime film directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role. The screenplay by Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donoghue focuses on Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, whose investigation into the drug trade in Dublin led to her murder in 1996, at the age of 37. The film is the second to be inspired by Guerin's life, following When the Sky Falls (2000).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kyra Sedgwick</span> American actress (born 1965)

Kyra Minturn Sedgwick is an American actress, producer, and director.

The Kerry Film Festival is an annual film festival that takes place in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland, during October / November. The Kerry Film Festival is funded by Kerry County Council, Fáilte Ireland, the Arts Council as well as having corporate sponsorship.

The twenty-fourth series of the British medical drama television series Casualty commenced airing in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 12 September 2009, and concluded on 21 August 2010. Events of the series included a crossover with sister show Holby City.

The first series of the British medical drama television series Casualty began airing on 6 September 1986, and concluded on 27 December 1986. The show was created by Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin after the pair were both hospitalised for different reasons. Brock and Unwin were deeply concerned with what they saw within hospitals and decided to pitch a document in 1985 for the BBC. It was reported the pitch document 'read like a manifesto', and the show was then commissioned. Geraint Morris was appointed as the show's producer. Casualty was commissioned to boost ratings on BBC One at peak times after ratings began to decline between 1984 and 1985. Prior to first series airing, Brock and Unwin visited a hospital in Bristol where they met a charge nurse called Pete Salt. Salt was appointed the series medical advisor.

The second series of the British medical drama television series Casualty commenced airing in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 12 September 1987 and finished on 19 December 1987.

The fifth series of the British medical drama television series Casualty commenced airing in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 7 September 1990 and finished on 7 December 1990.

<i>Albert Nobbs</i> 2011 British-Irish drama film by Rodrigo García

Albert Nobbs is a 2011 period drama film directed by Rodrigo García and starring Glenn Close. The screenplay, by Close, John Banville and Gabriella Prekop, is based on the 1927 novella Albert Nobbs by George Moore.

<i>Cloudburst</i> (2011 film) 2011 film

Cloudburst is a 2011 Canadian-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Thom Fitzgerald and starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. The film is an adaptation of Fitzgerald's 2010 play of the same name. Cloudburst premiered at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 16, 2011. It opened in a limited release in Canada on December 7, 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary-Claire Carter</span> Fictional character

Mary-Claire Carter is a fictional character from the BBC medical drama Holby City, played by actress Niamh McGrady. She first appeared in the eleventh series episode "Spin", broadcast on 22 September 2009. The character was introduced by Tony McHale. Between her arrival and January 2013, Mary Claire appeared on a recurring basis, sometimes with months between appearances, as an agency nurse on Keller and AAU wards. McGrady was promoted to a regular cast member in early 2013 by newly appointed executive producer, Oliver Kent - alongside the introductions of three characters. Her first appearance, as a regular cast member, aired on 23 April when Mary-Claire received a staff nurse job on the AAU ward. She is characterised as a blunt and easily distracted character, yet a brilliant nurse. Her strong point is not diplomacy, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll find a heart of gold. McGrady has described her as "cheeky, flirtatious, and trouble."

Jane Brennan is an Irish actress. Primarily known for her work on the stage, she played Mary Lacey in the Academy Award-nominated film Brooklyn. She also had a recurring role as Lady Margaret Bryan on the series The Tudors. She is the co-founder of the Bespoke Theatre Company.


  1. "Brenda Fricker Biography" at
  2. The Sunday Times, November 2, 2008, "Profile: Brenda Fricker, the star who makes Home Alone true"
  3. 1 2 3 4 | Casualty | Brenda Fricker Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. 1 2 "Best of Irish as Graham Norton's Holding begins filming in West Cork". 29 July 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  5. Barnard, Elissa (11 December 2012). "Actress hails Cloudburst". The Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  6. Lucey, Anne (10 November 2008). "Brenda Fricker receives film award". The Irish Times . Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  7. Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara (13 June 2020). "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times . Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  8. "The Catch: Release date, cast and news for Channel 5 drama". 11 January 2023.
  9. 1 2 "The Catch: Meet the cast of the channel 5 drama - including this Midsomer Murders star". 25 January 2023.