Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming Biography.com

Actor, Director(1965–)
Alan Cumming is a Scottish actor known for a range of work, from Shakespeare to Cabaret to X-Men, to the television series The Good Wife.

Synopsis

Born in Perthshire, Scotland, on January 27, 1965, Alan Cumming received traditional theater training but has moved effortlessly in his career from Shakespeare to Cabaret to X-Men, to the television series The Good Wife. His versatility as a performer, his sense of humor, his offbeat choice of roles, and his openness about his gay identity have brought him a loyal and varied audience.

Early Life and Career

Alan Cumming was born in Perthshire, Scotland, on January 27, 1965. He grew up in a house on a large estate property, where his father worked as a forester. He left high school when he was 16 and took a staff job at a magazine, and at the age of 20, he entered the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow. He began acting professionally while still a student, and when he graduated, he found regular work on stage and on television, including on a popular soap opera.

Theater and Film Breakthroughs

Cumming acted in several Scottish repertory theaters in the early 1990s, mastering roles such as Hamlet (in 1993), and was featured on the television sitcom The High Life. He made a successful transition to Hollywood in the mid-'90s, receiving small but memorable roles in the James Bond film GoldenEye and the drama Circle of Friends (both released in 1995); the 1996 Jane Austen adaptation Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow; and several late-'90s comedies, including Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997) and Spice World (1998).

In 1998, Cumming arrived on Broadway, reprising a role he had played in London five years earlier: the decadent, androgynous "M.C." in Cabaret, who serves as the Master of Ceremonies at the seedy Kit Kat Klub. Cumming's performance in this revival brought him several honors, including a Tony Award, as well as a much greater level of fame. He continued his Broadway career with roles in projects like Threepenny Opera (2006) and Macbeth (2014), later hosting the 69th Annual Tony Awards in 2015.

Career Highlights

Cumming's continuing career as a character actor included supporting parts in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Julie Taymor's Shakespearean adaptation Titus in 1999 (they would work together again in The Tempest in 2010) and a 2002 film version of Nicholas Nickleby. He also took roles in more popular entertainment, playing the blue-colored mutant Nightcrawler in the second X-Men film, X2 (2003), and appearing in the Spy Kids and Smurfs films and their sequels.

In 2005, Cumming was featured in the made-for-television film Reefer Madness, based on an Off-Broadway musical inspired by the original anti-drug film of 1936. He played three parts in Reefer Madness, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Cumming made his directorial debut in 2001 with the marital comedy-drama The Anniversary Party, which he co-directed with friend Jennifer Jason Leigh. Cumming and Leigh also co-starred in the film with an ensemble cast of other actor-friends.

Cumming began hosting Mystery! on PBS in 2008, bringing his sly delivery to the introduction of each series and episode. Since 2009, he has been a regular cast member of The Good Wife, a CBS legal drama starring Julianna Margulies set in Chicago.

In 2015 Cumming was nominated for an Emmy in the Supporting Actor category for his role in The Good Wife

Personal Life and Other Projects

Cumming was married to actress Hilary Lyon from 1985 to 1993. He married his boyfriend Grant Shaffer, a commercial artist, in a civil ceremony in London in 2007. They remarried five years later in New York, where they currently reside.

In 2002, Cumming published Tommy's Tale, a novel about a bisexual man living a hedonistic life in contemporary London. Later, in 2014, the actor released the memoir Not My Father's Son, which looks at his upbringing in Scotland and the abuse endured from his father. Cumming has also been an active spokesperson for the LGBT community since he came out in the late 1990s. Additionally, in 2005, he released a fragrance that he named after himself.

In 2009, Cumming was named an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

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