Alan Cumming, actor

Alan Cumming, actor

By BBC Radio 4

Alan Cumming's wide-ranging career on stage includes playing Hamlet, starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and – perhaps most notably - taking the role of the Emcee in the musical Cabaret in London and New York to great acclaim: his 1998 Broadway performance won seven awards, including a Tony. He’s also appeared in films including GoldenEye and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and in the TV series The Good Wife.

Alan was born in Perthshire in 1965. His father was a forester and the family moved to the Panmure estate on the east coast of Scotland. Encouraged by his English teacher, Alan grew up loving drama at school but his childhood was blighted by his violent and abusive father. He worked for the publisher DC Thomson as a sub-editor before going to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. There he launched his performing career with fellow student Forbes Masson: together they were Victor and Barry, a comedy and music double-act. They drew on these characters for their BBC TV sit-com The High Life, based around a fictional Scottish airline.

Alan has published a novel and three memoirs: his 2014 autobiography Not My Father’s Son detailed his very difficult relationship with his father, both in his early years and later in his life.

In 2022 Alan is developing a solo dance-theatre work, focusing on the personal history of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which he will perform in Scotland and New York. He’s now also the co-owner of a bar, Club Cumming, in Manhattan.

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