Sinéad Cusack

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Sinéad Cusack
Jane Moira Cusack

(1948-02-18) 18 February 1948 (age 71)
Dalkey, Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Years active1967–present
Jeremy Irons (m. 1978)
Children Richard Boyd Barrett
Max Irons
Samuel Irons

Sinéad Moira Cusack ( /ʃɪˈnd/ ; born 18 February 1948) is an award-winning Irish stage, television and film actress. Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, before moving to London in 1975 to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has won the Critic's Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Sebastian Barry's Our Lady of Sligo and has received two Tony Award nominations: once for Best Leading Actress in Much Ado About Nothing (1985), and again for Best Featured Actress in Rock 'n' Roll (2008). She has also received five Olivier Award nominations for As You Like (1981), The Maid's Tragedy (also 1981), The Taming of the Shrew (1983), Our Lady of Sligo (1998) and Rock 'n' Roll (2007).

Abbey Theatre National Theatre of Ireland, Dublin, origins tied to the Irish Literary Revival

The Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, in Dublin, Ireland, is one of the country's leading cultural institutions. First opening to the public on 27 December 1904, and despite losing its original building to a fire in 1951, it has remained active to the present day. The Abbey was the first state-subsidized theatre in the English-speaking world; from 1925 onwards it received an annual subsidy from the Irish Free State. Since July 1966, the Abbey has been located at 26 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1.

Royal Shakespeare Company British theatre company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs over 1,000 staff and produces around 20 productions a year. The RSC plays regularly in London, Newcastle upon Tyne, and on tour across the UK and internationally.

Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers.


Cusack married British actor Jeremy Irons in 1978, and together they have two sons: Samuel James (b. 1978), and Maximilian Paul (b. 1985). Prior to her marriage she had given birth to another son, the Irish member of parliament Richard Boyd Barrett (b. 1967), whom she put up for adoption. They have since been reunited, and Cusack has supported him in his political campaigns.

Jeremy Irons English actor

Jeremy John Irons is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969 and has since appeared in many West End theatre productions, including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Godspell, Richard II, and Embers. In 1984, he made his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and received a Tony Award for Best Actor.

Max Irons English actor and model

Maximilian Paul Diarmuid Irons is an English-Irish actor and model. He is known for his roles in Red Riding Hood (2011), The White Queen (2013), The Host (2013), Woman in Gold (2014),The Riot Club (2014), and The Wife (2018).

Richard Boyd Barrett Irish politician

Richard Boyd Barrett an Irish Solidarity–People Before Profit politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire constituency since the 2011 general election.

Along with her husband, Cusack was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the British Labour Party in 1998.

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights.

Early life

Cusack was born Jane Moira Cusack in Dalkey, County Dublin, the daughter of actress Maureen Cusack (born Mary Margaret Kiely) and actor Cyril James Cusack. [1] [2] She is the sister of actresses Sorcha Cusack, Niamh Cusack, and half-sister to Catherine Cusack. Her father was born in South Africa, to an Irish father and an English mother, and had worked with Micheál Mac Liammóir at Dublin's Gate Theatre. [3]

Dalkey Suburb in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Leinster, Ireland

Dalkey is a suburb of Dublin, and a seaside resort southeast of the city, and the town of Dún Laoghaire, in Ireland. It was founded as a Viking settlement and became an active port during the Middle Ages. According to chronicler John Clyn (c.1286–c.1349), it was one of the ports through which the plague entered Ireland in the mid-14th century. In modern times, Dalkey has become a seaside suburb that attracts some tourist visitors. One of Dublin's more affluent suburbs, it has been home to writers and celebrities including Jane Emily Herbert, Maeve Binchy, Hugh Leonard, Bono, Van Morrison and Enya. The village and broader area lie within the jurisdiction of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

County Dublin Place in Ireland

County Dublin is one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland. Prior to 1994 it was also an administrative county covering the whole county outside of Dublin City Council. In 1994, as part of a reorganisation of local government within Dublin the boundaries of Dublin City were redrawn, Dublin County Council was abolished and three new administrative county councils were established: Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.

Maureen Cusack was an Irish actress. She was born in 1920 in Glenties, County Donegal, Ireland as Mary Margaret Kiely. She was married to Irish actor Cyril Cusack and they had five children Sinéad, Sorcha, Niamh, Paul and Pádraig. Sinead, Sorcha and Niamh are all actresses and Pádraig is a theatre producer. Her grandsons are actor Max Irons and politician Richard Boyd Barrett.



Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In 1975, she moved to London and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company starring in Dion Boucicault's London Assurance in the West End. Cusack's work with the Royal Shakespeare Company continued with an award-winning performance as Celia in As You Like It which included the Clarence Derwent Award and her first Olivier Award nomination. She secured a second Olivier Award nomination for her performance in The Maid's Tragedy by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in 1981, followed two years later with a third Olivier Award nomination as Kate in The Taming of the Shrew . She made her Broadway debut in 1984 performing in repertory with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Starring opposite Derek Jacobi, she played Roxane in Anthony Burgess' translation of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac and Beatrice in William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Terry Hands. The production of Cyrano de Bergerac was later filmed in 1985. Much Ado was first produced at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1982–83, then moved to London's Barbican Theatre for the 1983–1984 season where it was joined by Cyrano, before both plays transferred to New York's Gershwin Theatre from October 1984 to January 1985, for which Cusack received a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Beatrice, and costar Jacobi won the award for his Benedick. During this period, Cusack and her husband, Jeremy Irons, appeared in a "Shakespeare Winter's Eve", a major fundraiser for the Riverside Shakespeare Company in New York, along with other members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Following the Broadway run, the plays toured the US, making stops in Washington DC and Los Angeles. Cusack's relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company continued with a series of leading roles include Portia in The Merchant of Venice opposite David Suchet, Lady Macbeth opposite Jonathan Pryce in Macbeth and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra in Stratford upon Avon and at London's Haymarket Theatre in the West End.

Dion Boucicault Irish actor and dramatist

Dionysius Lardner "Dion" Boucicault was an Irish actor and playwright famed for his melodramas. By the later part of the 19th century, Boucicault had become known on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the most successful actor-playwright-managers then in the English-speaking theatre. The New York Times hailed him in his obituary as "the most conspicuous English dramatist of the 19th century."

London Assurance is a five-act comedy by Dion Boucicault. It was the second play that he wrote but his first to be produced. Its first production was by Charles Matthews and Madame Vestris's company and ran from 4 March 1841 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden. It was Boucicault's first major success.

<i>As You Like It</i> pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio in 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility.

In 1990, Cusack, in the role of Masha, joined two of her sisters, Niamh (as Irina) and Sorcha (as Olga), and her father, Cyril Cusack (as Chebutykin) for a highly-celebrated production of Anton Chekhov's tragi-comedy The Three Sisters in a new version by Frank McGuinness, directed by Adrian Noble at the Gate Theatre, Dublin before transferring to the Royal Court Theatre in London. The production also featured Niamh's husband Finbar Lynch as Solenyi and Lesley Manville as Natasha. The production won the three real-life sisters the Irish Life Award in 1992.

Cyril Cusack Irish actor

Cyril James Cusack was an Irish actor, who appeared in numerous films and television productions in a career lasting more than 70 years.

Anton Chekhov Russian dramatist, author and physician

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov practiced as a medical doctor throughout most of his literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."

<i>Three Sisters</i> (play) play by Anton Chekhov

Three Sisters is a play by the Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov. It was written in 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre. The play is sometimes included on the short list of Chekhov's outstanding plays, along with The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

One of her best known stage roles was Our Lady of Sligo by Sebastian Barry in 1998, in which she played the principal role of Mai O'Hara in performances in Ireland, on Broadway and at the National Theatre. For this she won the 1998 Evening Standard Award for Best Actress, the 1998 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress and her fourth Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress. In 2006/7 she starred with Rufus Sewell in Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll at the Royal Court Theatre in London which transferred to the West End and Broadway, winning Cusack her fifth Olivier Award nomination and her second Tony Award nomination.

In 2015, Cusack returned to Ireland's Abbey Theatre where she began her theatre career, for the world première of Mark O'Rowe's play Our Few And Evil Days opposite long-time collaborator Ciarán Hinds for which she won the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Actress.


In 1970, Cusack starred with Peter Sellers in the film Hoffman . On screen Cusack and her husband Jeremy Irons appeared together in the 1992 film Waterland , in Christopher Hampton's Tales from Hollywood also in 1992, and again in 1996 in Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty . Further film work includes starring roles in the 2005 film V for Vendetta and David Cronenberg's 2007 thriller Eastern Promises . In the same year, her performance in The Tiger's Tail won her a first IFTA Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In 2014 she won the IFTA Award for her performance in The Sea , adapted from John Banville's novel. The following year, she was nominated once again for an IFTA Award for her performance in John Boorman's British drama Queen and Country , a sequel to Hope and Glory which premièred at Cannes Film Festival.


Her television work is extensive. In 1971, she guest starred in an episode of The Persuaders! (starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore) as Jenny Lindley, a wealthy heiress who suspects that a man claiming to be her dead brother is in fact an impostor. [4] In 1975 she made three appearances in the TV series Quiller as the character 'Roz'. Further starring roles include lead roles in Oliver's Travels , Have Your Cake And Eat It for which she won the RTS Award for Best Actress and Frank McGuinness's The Hen House for BBC Television. She starred in the title role of George du Maurier's "Trilby" on the BBC, opposite Alan Badel's Svengali. She also starred in the 2004 BBC mini-series North and South as Mrs. Thornton. In 2006, she starred in the BBC sitcom Home Again. In 2011, she joined the main cast of the TV series Camelot , which ran for one season. Cusack had featured roles in the 2014 mini-series The Deep and the 2016 series Marcella , an eight-episode murder mystery.


Along with other actresses, including Paola Dionisotti, Fiona Shaw, Juliet Stevenson and Harriet Walter, Cusack contributed to a book by Carol Rutter called Clamorous Voices: Shakespeare's Women Today (1994). [5] The book analysed modern acting interpretations of female Shakespearean roles.

Personal life

Cusack married British actor Jeremy Irons in 1978, and they have two sons, Samuel James (b. 1978), and Maximilian Paul (b. 1985).

Prior to marrying Irons, Cusack gave birth to a son in 1967 and placed the boy for adoption. In 2007, the Sunday Independent reporter Daniel McConnell revealed that Cusack was the mother of left-wing general election candidate and now member of Irish parliament Richard Boyd Barrett. [6] The two have since been reunited. [7] Cusack campaigned for Boyd Barrett when he stood unsuccessfully in Ireland's 2007 general election as the People Before Profit Alliance's candidate for Dún Laoghaire constituency. [8] [9] She also joined him in the count centre as he awaited the outcome of the 2011 general election, at which he was elected to Dáil Éireann. [10] In May 2013, Boyd Barrett claimed that theatre director Vincent Dowling had been his biological father. [11]

Cusack is a patron of the Burma Campaign UK, the London-based group campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma.

In 1998, Cusack was named, along with her husband, in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the British Labour Party. [12] In August 2010, Cusack signed the "Irish artists' pledge to boycott Israel" initiated by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. [13]


Awards and nominations

1981 Clarence Derwent Award for Best Supporting Actress As You Like It Won
1981 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role As You Like It Nominated
1981 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival The Maid's Tragedy Nominated
1983 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival The Taming of the Shrew Nominated
1985 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Much Ado About Nothing Nominated
1998 RTS Television Award for Best Actor - FemaleHave You Cake And Eat ItWon
1998 Evening Standard Award for Best ActressOur Lady of SligoWon
1999 Critics' Circle Award for Best ActressOur Lady of SligoWon
1999 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a PlayOur Lady of SligoNominated
2007 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a PlayRock 'n' RollNominated
2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Rock 'n' RollNominated
2007 IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Film The Tiger's Tail Nominated
2014 IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Film The Sea Won
2015 IFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Film Queen and Country Nominated
2015 Irish Times Theatre Awards for Best ActressOur Few And Evil DaysWon

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  1. "Sinead Cusack Biography (1948–)". 18 February 1948. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  2. Nick Curtis (14 July 2006). "Cusack continues to Rock – Theatre & Dance – Arts – London Evening Standard". Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. The Persuaders!, 1971. Episode 3, Season 1. "Take Seven" The transcript of the episode, in Finnish An extensive list of her works is available at
  4. ISBN   978-0-7043-4145-6
  5. McConnell, Daniel (13 May 2007). "Red hot Richard is son of actress". Retrieved 6 July 2013.
  6. Entertainment News » Irons' Wife Reunited with Adopted Son
  7. Taafe, Danielle (27 June 2007). "Cusack reunited with son she gave up for adoption". The Independent. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  8. Richard BOYD BARRETT Archived 16 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Ingle, Róisín. "Fresh-minted TDs emerge from 'Group of Death'". 28 February 2011. The Irish Times.
  10. Lynch, Donal (12 May 2013). "Dowling was my father, his death saddens me". Sunday Independent.
  11. "'Luvvies' for Labour". BBC News. 30 August 1998. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  12. "Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Irish artists' pledge to boycott Israel". IPSC. 12 August 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2010.