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Sinéad Cusack

Sinéad Cusack
Born Jane Moira Cusack
(1948-02-18) 18 February 1948 (age 72)
Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Occupation Actress
Years active 1967–present
Spouse(s) Jeremy Irons (1978–present)
Children 3; including Max Irons and Richard Boyd Barrett
Parent(s) Cyril Cusack
Relatives Niamh Cusack (sister)
Sorcha Cusack (sister)
Catherine Cusack (half-sister)
External images
16px Cusack in June 2012

Sinéad Moira Cusack (/ʃɨˈnd/; born 18 February 1948) is an 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 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).

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.

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

Early life

Cusack was born Jane Moira Cusack in Dalkey, County Dublin, the daughter of Mary Margaret "Maureen" 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]


Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. In 1970, she starred with Peter Sellers in the film Hoffman. 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 moved to London and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Also in 1975 she made three appearances in the TV series Quiller as the character 'Roz'. 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 (having taken the role over from Alice Krige, who played Roxane through the play's London run) 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 came 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. She appeared in the 1992 film adaptation of Graham Swift's novel Waterland, alongside her husband Jeremy Irons.

One of her best known stage roles was Our Lady of Sligo in 1998, in which she played the principal role of Mai O'Hara in performances in Ireland, on Broadway and at the National Theatre. She also starred in the 2004 BBC miniseries North and South in a scene-stealing role as Mrs. Thornton, and in the 2006 film V for Vendetta.

She was awarded the 1998 Evening Standard Award for Best Actress and the 1998 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress. 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.

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

She 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 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]

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.[11] In August 2010, Cusack signed the "Irish artists' pledge to boycott Israel" initiated by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.[12]



  1. ^ "Sinead Cusack Biography (1948–)". 18 February 1948. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Nick Curtis (14 July 2006). "Cusack continues to Rock – Theatre & Dance – Arts – London Evening Standard". Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ ISBN 978-0-7043-4145-6
  6. ^ McConnell, Daniel (13 May 2007). "Red hot Richard is son of actress". Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Entertainment News » Irons' Wife Reunited with Adopted Son[dead link]
  8. ^ Taafe, Danielle (27 June 2007). "Cusack reunited with son she gave up for adoption". The Independent. Retrieved 14 August 2007. [dead link]
  9. ^ Richard BOYD BARRETT
  10. ^ Ingle, Róisín. "Fresh-minted TDs emerge from 'Group of Death'". 28 February 2011. The Irish Times.
  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. 

External links

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