Alan Cumming Biography, Life, Interesting Facts

Actor

Alan Cumming

Birthday :

January 27, 1965

Also Known For :

Director

Birth Place :

Aberfeldy, Perthshire, United Kingdom

Zodiac Sign :

Aquarius

Chinese Zodiac :

Dragon

Birth Element :

Wood


LIFE ISN’T ALWAYS A CABARET: ALAN CUMMING

CHILDHOOD AND EARLY LIFE

Scottish-American Actor, Alan Cumming was born on 27th January 1965, in Perthshire, Scotland. Alex Cumming, Alan’s father was a forester and Mary Darling, Alan’s mother was a secretary in an insurance company. Alan was the second child and had a brother named Tom Cumming, who was six years elder to him. In 1965, his family moved to the east coast of Scotland near Carnoustie. Alan and his brother were raised on a large estate property known as the ‘Panmure Estate’.

But all was not well in Alan Cumming's paradise. The man who loves to make everyone laugh had a very difficult and tormented childhood. His father took pleasure in troubling Alan and his brother by inflicting upon them all kinds of emotional and physical tortures. Alan’s mother was unable to file a divorce against his father until the time she became financially independent. Alan Cumming has documented the memories of his abusive childhood in his autobiography ‘Not My Father's Son’.

EDUCATION

While growing up in Carnoustie, Alan Cumming obtained his primary education at ‘Monikie Primary School’ and went to the ‘Carnoustie High School’ for secondary education. He had a deep interest in acting right from the time he was a small kid. While in high school, Alan participated in many plays and was an active member of the ‘Carnoustie Theatre Club’ and the ‘Carnoustie Musical Society’.

At the age of 16, after graduating from high school, Alan took up the job of a sub-editor at ‘D.C. Thomson Publishers’. He engaged the readers of the magazine by writing a column titled ‘Young Alan.’

Two years later, in 1982, Alan Cumming was able to escape the clutches of his brutal father as he got accepted into the ‘Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama’ in Glasgow. It was during this period, Alan forayed into professional acting. He started training in regional theater and was part of plays like ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Passing Glory’.

Alan completed his graduation in the year 1985 and earned a B.A degree in Dramatic Studies. Cumming was a very bright student during his college days and pocketed numerous awards in direction and verse speaking. In partnership with fellow student Forbes Masson, he crafted an enormously successful cabaret act ‘Victor and Barry’ that earned him much fame and recognition.

CAREER

By the time Alan Cumming turned 20, his mother got divorced from his father and he was able to find a steady source of income by working on stage and on television. He did a Scottish soap opera titled ‘Take the High Road’ and instantly became a household name in his hometown. He began his theater career from his native place Scotland where he started working in a number of theater communities including the ‘Royal Lyceum Edinburgh’, ‘Dundee Rep’, ‘The Tron Glasgow and tours with Borderline’ and ‘Theatre Workshop and Glasgow Citizens' TAG’.

Alan’s big break came with Manfred Karge’s 1988 theater production ‘Conquest of the South Pole’. The play was first staged at ‘Traverse Theater’ in Edinburgh and Alan depicted the role of Slupianek. Later, the play was transferred to London’s ‘Royal Court’. Alan’s impressive portrayal received wide applause and he was nominated for the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ Olivier Award. Alan continued to don various hats in different plays and also worked with Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Shifting base to London in 1991, Alan started working for the ‘Royal National Theatre’. Subsequently, he won the Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Best Comedy Performer’ for his portrayal of The Madman in Daniel Fo’s ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’.

Alan Cumming was an admirer of French Canadian playwright Michel Tremblay’s works and when he got an opportunity to direct a play for the Royal National Theatre, he decided to do ‘Bonjour La, Bonjour’.

1986 marked Alan’s entry into the film world with Gillies MacKinnon’s ‘Passing Glory’. Alan’s feature film debut happened in 1992 when filmmaker Ian Sellar roped him to play a pivotal role in his drama film ‘Prague’. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 and Alan’s acting received critical acclaim. He also bagged a ‘BAFTA’ nomination for ‘Best Actor’ and won the ‘Best Actor Award’ at the Atlantic Film Festival. In the same year came Alan Cumming’s award-winning characterization of Bernard Bottle in the 1991 BBC Comedy ‘Bernard and the Genie’.

Alan Cumming, also known as Uppin Cumming, is an award-winning Hamlet. He clinched the ‘TMA Best Actor Award’ with his sensational performance in the Shakespearean play. Hilary Lyon, his wife at that time, was cast opposite Alan for the role of Ophelia. Sam Mendes’ musical ‘Cabaret’ saw the light of the day in 1993 and Alan received an Olivier Award nomination for ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ for his role of The Master of Ceremonies opposite Jane Horrocks.

Alan Cumming caught the American eye in 1995 when he essayed the role of Sean Walsh in the Hollywood film ‘Circle of Friends.’ American directors took notice of the eclectic Young Alan with his small but impressive performances in films like ‘GoldenEye’ and ‘Emma.’ He also left his indelible mark with the late-90’s comedies ‘Romy and Michele's High School Reunion’ (1997) and ‘Spice World’ (1998). Since then, Alan Cumming has played a diverse variety of roles from being a character actor in films like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999), ‘Titus’ (1999) to playing the role of a blue-colored mutant nightcrawler in the X-Men series, ‘X2’. Cumming also appeared in the film ‘Spy Kids’ and was a voice-over artist for ‘Smurfs’ twice. He was the voice of the adorable Gusy.

Alan Cumming was not just restricted to acting. He co-directed a film with his friend Jennifer Jason Leigh. The film was a marital comedy-drama titled ‘The Anniversary Party’. He has also made several documentaries viz. ‘My Brilliant Britain’, ‘The Real Cabaret’, and a story that unraveled the mystery of his maternal grandfather - ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

Alan Cumming also did guest appearances on television shows like ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘The L Word,’ ‘Frasier,’ ‘Tin Man’ and ‘Reefer Madness.’ He was also the anchor for the PBS’ series ‘Masterpiece Mystery.’

OTHER WORKS

Alan Cumming is also a writer and has two novels under his belt: New York Times bestselling memoir ‘Not My Father’s Son’ and ‘Tommy’s Tale’, a novel based on the life of a bisexual man living in London. Alan Cumming wrote about the haute couture shows in Paris for the esteemed magazine ‘Marie Claire’. He notably wrote for magazines and has also contributed introductions and prefaces for various books such as Andy Warhol, Nancy Milford etc.

Alan’s singing streak is showcased in his duet with Liza Minnelli ‘Baby, It's Cold Outside’. He released a single album on 2012 titled ‘Someone Like the Edge of Firework’ and on 5th February 2016, he released his full-length album ‘Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs: Live At The Cafe Carlyle.’ Alan exhibited his photographs in an exhibition named ‘Alan Cumming Snaps!’. The award-winning fragrance ‘Cumming’ is also his brainchild.

AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

In 1998, ‘Cabaret’ arrived on Broadway and Alan Cumming reprised the role of The Master of Ceremonies. His stellar performance won the heart of New York City and he was bestowed with ‘The Tony’, ‘Drama Desk’, ‘Outer Critics’ Circle’, ‘NY Press’, ‘Theater World’, ‘FANY’ and ‘New York Public Advocate’s’ awards.

He played the supporting role of Eli Gold for the CBS legal drama, ‘The Good Wife.’ For this role, he was nominated for two Primetime ‘Emmy Awards’, two ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards,’ a ‘Golden Globe Award’ and a ‘Satellite Award.’

Alan Cumming has received numerous Best Actor awards across the globe for his acting in Travis Fine’s ‘Any Day Now’.

Alan Cumming is a staunch supporter of LGBT rights and has won many awards for his humanitarian works from organizations like AMFAR, Human Rights Campaign, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, GLAAD and the Trevor Project.

PERSONAL LIFE

Alan Cumming’s childhood experiences had a profound impact on his behaviour. He is an atheist by belief, a self-proclaimed bisexual and a vegan since 2012. His first partner was childhood sweetheart Hilary Lyon, and they were married for eight years from 1985 to 1993. The childless couple parted ways with mutual consent. He had also dated actress Saffron Burrows for two years and was in a relationship with theater director Nick Philippou for six years.

On January 7, 2007, Cumming entered into a civil partnership with Grant Shaffer, a graphic designer in London. As a part of their fifth-anniversary celebrations, the couple got legally married on 7th January 2012 in New York. They now live in Manhattan with their beloved dogs, Jerry and Lala.


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