Alan Cumming, OBE (born 27 January 1965) is a Scottish stage, television and film actor, writer, director, producer and author. His roles have included the Emcee in Cabaret, Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye, Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United, and Fegan Floop in the Spy Kids trilogy. He has also appeared in independent films like The Anniversary Party, which he co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in; and Ali Selim's Sweet Land, for which he won an Independent Spirit award as producer. His London stage appearances include Hamlet, Madman in Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist, for which he received an Olivier award, the lead in Martin Sherman's Bent, and as Dionysus in The National Theatre of Scotland's The Bacchae. On Broadway he has appeared as Mac the Knife in The Threepenny Opera, the Emcee in Cabaret, for which he won the Tony in 1998, and "Design for Living". Cumming also introduces "Masterpiece Mystery" for PBS.

He has also written a novel, Tommy's Tale, had a cable talk show ("Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming") and produced a line of perfumed products labelled "Cumming". He has contributed opinion pieces to many publications and performed a cabaret show I Bought A Blue Car Today. Retaining his British citizenship, Cumming also became a U.S. citizen in November 2008.

Early life

Cumming was born in Aberfeldy, in Perthshire, Scotland, the son of Mary Darling, an insurance company secretary, and Alex Cumming, a forester. He has stated that his father was physically and emotionally abusive towards him.[1][2] He has one older brother, Tom, and a niece. He is bisexual, and has been married to a woman and subsequently in a civil partnership with a man. Brought up in Angus, Cumming attended Monikie Primary School and Carnoustie High School and originally aspired to a career in veterinary medicine, but a personality clash with his biology teacher prevented him from taking a related elective and he subsequently set his sights on becoming an actor.[3] Following graduation, he spent a year and a half employed as an editor and columnist for the Scottish pop magazine TOPS before entering the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. On graduation from Drama school he married fellow student Hilary Lyon; they divorced 8 years later and had no children.


Cumming played Sean Walsh, an unwanted suitor of Minnie Driver's character, in Circle of Friends, an Irish film released in 1995.

In 1995 he played Boris Ivanovich Grishenko in the James Bond film GoldenEye.

Cumming co-wrote, co-directed, co-produced, and co-starred in the ensemble film The Anniversary Party with friend and former Cabaret co-star Jennifer Jason Leigh, in 2001.[4] The two starred in the movie as a Hollywood couple.

Cumming starred in and directed Suffering Man's Charity, later released as Ghost Writer. He had prominent roles in the Spy Kids trilogy, X-Men 2 (as Nightcrawler), and was in Spice World, as well as Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, Josie and the Pussycats and Son of the Mask, along with acting in the Flintstones movie Viva Rock Vegas. He played Saturninus in the 1999 Julie Taymor film production of Titus

Cumming played a psychotic ex-amusement park employee in David Munro's Full Grown Men, which was shown in theaters throughout the U.S. in summer 2008.

In Gray Matters, a 2007 romantic comedy film directed by Sue Kramer, Cumming plays cab driver Gordy who had a crush on Gray (Heather Graham). It premiered on October 21, 2006 at the Hamptons International Film Festival and had a U.S. theatrical release on February 23, 2007.

In 2010, Cumming will provide the voice of Adolf Hitler in the film Jackboots on Whitehall as well as co-star in "Boogie Woogie".

During his career, Cumming has also directed two short films, Butter and Burn Your Phone. The latter began its life as a one-off drama on BBC Radio 4.


United Kingdom

In the mid-1980s Cumming made brief appearances in Scottish television shows including Take The High Road and Taggart. His first major television role was in the Christmas 1991 comedy Bernard and the Genie, a Richard Curtis-scripted one-off show where he starred alongside Lenny Henry and Rowan Atkinson.

Cumming starred as Sebastian Flight in the Scottish sitcom The High Life in 1994-5. The series was written by Cumming and co-star Forbes Masson, continuing an acting-writing partnership the two had developed since their drama school days. Masson and Cumming also formed a cult Kelvinside musical double act "Victor and Barry", which was filmed for an stv show and were nominated for a Perrier Award in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1988, toured Australia in 1989, playing the Sydney Opera House, released a record ("See Victor and Barry and Faint") but were killed off onstage at the London Palladium in the early 1990s.

United States

In 2001, he guest starred in the HBO comedy Sex and the City as O the designer in the episode, 'The Real Me'. 2003 saw him playing a cameo role in the American sitcom Frasier, playing Niles's yoga instructor. He also guest starred on "3rd Rock from the Sun".

In 2004, he starred in Showtime's Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical in which he played the role of The Lecturer – a versatile character who narrates the story and transforms himself into several other minor characters. Shortly afterward, he had a short role in Richard Bell's feature film Eighteen. He appeared in BBC show, Shoebox Zoo as the humble, kind-hearted Bruno.

Cumming played the role of Bill Blaikie, a gay drag queen party promoter hired by Kit Porter to manage her café cum nightclub, in season 3 of The L Word. His character had an affair with Max, a transgendered female-to-male character in the show. He appeared in episodes 2 to 7, which originally aired on Showtime in 2006.

In 2007, Cumming played Glitch/Ambrose, an inventor whose brain had been partially removed, in the TV miniseries, Tin Man. He also provided the voice of Chuck Masters, a 50 year-old, paralyzed, HIV-positive gay man in Logo's Rick and Steve, a stop animation sitcom created by Q. Allan Brocka.

He is also the host of the 2008–2010 seasons of the PBS Masterpiece Mystery! series.

Cumming also appeared as the third celebrity hijacker in Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, giving the housemates a method acting task in which they had to stay in character all day and then produce an improvised play.

In 2010 he plays Eli Gold on the CBS television show The Good Wife, a character who will become a series regular in the show's 2010–2011 season [5], and Desrae, a transvestite, on the British series "The Runaway".

Cumming also hosted short-lived US cable television shows, "Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming," in which he interviewed female co-stars of his movie roles, and "Midnight Snack," where he and his dogs introduced cult movies.

Cumming has also appeared on numerous US, UK and Australian talk shows.


Cumming played the Emcee in the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret, for which he won a Tony and NY Drama Critics award.[6] He had previously played the role in a production at London's Donmar Warehouse theatre, for which he had been nominated for an Olivier Award.[6] He recorded the song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Liza Minnelli for the Broadway Cares: Home for the Holidays album in 2001.

Other stage roles have included Otto in the 2001 Broadway production of Design for Living by Noel Coward, Valere in David Hirson's La Bete, the title role in the 1993 English Touring Theatre's Hamlet (playing opposite his then-wife, Hilary Lyon, in the role of Ophelia), and The Madman in the 1990 Royal National Theatre production of Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo, for which he won an Olivier Award.[7]

In 2002, Cumming and then-boyfriend British director Nick Philippou formed the production company The Art Party. The company's first and only play was the first English production of Jean Genet's play Elle, which Cumming had adapted from a literal translation by Terri Gordon. The company folded in 2003.

In 2006, Cumming returned to the stage, firstly performing in a poorly-received revival of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill musical The Threepenny Opera opposite Cyndi Lauper. They later performed at the Tony Awards. In late 2006, he appeared in the West End playing the lead role in Bent, a play about homosexuals in Germany under the Nazis. In 2007 he took the lead role in the National Theatre of Scotland's production of The Bacchae, which premiéred at the Edinburgh Festival in August, transferring to the Lyric Theatre in London and then to Lincoln Center, New York.

Cumming performed alongside Dianne Wiest in Classic Stage Company's production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, directed by Viacheslav Dolgachev.

He was optioned to play the Green Goblin in the new musical adaptation of the Spider-Man comics, but was replaced by Patrick Page.

Other work

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Cumming wrote a novel, Tommy's Tale, published in 2002.[8] He has also written articles for magazines, notably as a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine, writing on the haute couture shows in Paris, as well as what it was like for him dressing as a woman for a day.

Cumming recorded a duet of "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" with Liza Minnelli to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the September 11 Fund.

In 2005 he released a fragance called "Cumming," and a related line of scented bath lotion and body wash. They were sold exclusively at Sephora (which did not renew its distribution agreement) and a website which he dismantled in 2009 because of hackers defrauding customers.

Cumming served as a delegate for the Creative Coalition during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.[9] and contributed to If You Had Five Minutes with the President, a collection of 55+ essays by members or supporters of The Creative Coalition.[10] He was subsequently widely quoted for stating that he wished to see Obama naked.[11]

On 1 September 2009, Cumming released his first solo album based around his one man show, I Bought a Blue Car Today.[12]

On 13 September 2010 Cumming was featured in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the BBC series that explores the family background and ancestors of famous figures.[13] He investigated his grandfather Thomas Darling, who he discovered had died playing russian roulette while serving as a police officer in Malaya.[14]

Personal life


Cumming lives in New York City with his partner (via UK civil partnership), graphic artist Grant Shaffer, and their dogs, Honey and Leon.[15] The couple dated for two years before entering into a civil partnership at the Old Royal Naval College Greenwich on January 7, 2007.[16] After his civil partnership, when asked if he was monogamous, he stated "I don’t believe that monogamy is feasible".[17]

Once described as "a frolicky pansexual sex symbol for the new millennium", Cumming has stated that he considers himself bisexual, "although the pendulum has obviously swung".[18] Prior to the civil union, Cumming dated both men and women. Previous relationships include a two year relationship with actress Saffron Burrows, a six year relationship with theater director Nick Philippou, and a 1985 marriage to actress Hilary Lyon which lasted eight years. [19]

In a profile for The Times, Cumming stated that he "would dearly like to adopt a child" but subsequently stated his life was "too hectic" for children.[20] Once he outed himself as bisexual in 1998, Cumming promoted LGBT rights, emceeing and attending fundraisers for organizations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), as well as several AIDS charities, including the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR) and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Cumming is a patron of Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland's National Theatre 'for and by' young people. He is also a patron of NORM-UK, an English-registered charity against circumcision; he has revealed that he is uncircumcised.[21][22]

In March 2005, Cumming received the Vito Russo Award at the 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards for outstanding contributions toward eliminating homophobia.[23] In July of the same year he was also presented with the HRC's Humanitarian Award in San Francisco, also for his LGBT public stance.

In November 2006, Cumming received a Doctor of Arts honorary degree from the University of Abertay Dundee.

Cumming was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to film, theatre and the arts and activism for LGBT rights.[24][25][26]

On November 7, 2008, Cumming became a dual-national and was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America at a ceremony in New York City.[27][28]


Year Film Role Notes
1987 Shadow of the Stone Tom Henderson TV Series
1991 Bernard and the Genie Bernard Bottle TV Movie
British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Newcomer
1992 Prague Alexander Novak
1993 Micky Love Greg Deane TV Movie
Mr. Bean Bachelor #2 Uncredited
TV Series
1994 Second Best Bernard
Black Beauty Black Beauty Voice
1995 Circle of Friends Sean Walsh
GoldenEye Boris Ivanovich Grishenko
The High Life Sebastian Flight TV Series
1996 Emma Mr. Elton
3rd Rock From The Sun Angus: "The Hole" McDuff- Hole expert Season 5, Episode 18 Dick and Harry Fall Into a Hole
1997 Romy and Michele's High School Reunion Sandy Frink
Spice World Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth
Buddy Dick Croner, Trudy's Assistant
1999 Titus Saturninus
Plunkett & Macleane Lord Rochester
Eyes Wide Shut Hotel Desk Clerk
Annie Rooster
2000 Urbania Brett
God, the Devil and Bob The Devil TV Series
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas Mick Jagged/Gazoo
Get Carter Jeremy Kinnear
2001 The Anniversary Party Joe Therrian Writer/Producer/Director
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature
shared with Jennifer Jason Leigh
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay
shared with Jennifer Jason Leigh
Sex and the City O TV Series
Investigating Sex Sevy
Josie and the Pussycats Wyatt Frame
Spy Kids Fegan Floop
Company Man General Batista
2002 Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams Fegan Floop
Nicholas Nickleby Mr. Folair National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Foyle's War host (himself) TV series
2003 X2 Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Fegan Floop
2004 Shoebox Zoo Bruno the Bear TV Series
Garfield: The Movie Persnikitty Voice
Eighteen Father Chris
2005 Son of the Mask Loki Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
Reefer Madness Lecturer/Goat-Man/FDR
Ripley Under Ground Jeff Constant
Neverwas Jake
Sweet Land Frandsen Producer
Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature
2006 The L Word Billie Blaikie TV Series
Full Grown Men The Hitchhiker Co-Producer
2007 Gray Matters Gordy

Suffering Man's Charity (aka Ghost Writer)

John Vandermark Executive Producer
Tin Man Glitch TV miniseries
2009 Boogie Woogie Dewey
Dare Grant Matson
PoliWood Himself Documentary
2010 The Tempest Sebastian
Jackboots on Whitehall Adolf Hitler Voice
The Good Wife Eli Gold TV Series (Recurring Season 1; Main Cast Season 2-present)
Riverworld Judas Caretaker
Burlesque Alexis
The Smurfs Gutsy Smurf


  • Cumming, Alan (2002). Tommy's Tale. London: Michael Joseph. ISBN 0718144899. 


  1. Higginbotham, Adam Cumming out on top. The Observer, Sunday 16 February, 2003.
  2. Alan Cumming Biography (1965–). Film
  3. "Alan Cumming." Then It Must Be May 2001.
  4. Interview: Alan Cumming. 18 January 2002.
  5. Ausiello, Michael 'EXCLUSIVE: Good Wife promotes Alan Cumming to series regular', March 23, 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Alan Cumming – Details.
  7. Alan Cumming Biography. Lycos Movies.
  8. Cumming, 2002
  9. The Creative Coalition Press release. The Creative 28 July 2004.
  10. The Renaissance Man.
  11. Alan Cumming Says Barack Obama Has a Big Wang – Daily Intel.
  12. Alan Cumming: I Bought a Blue Car Today.
  14. BBC Who Do You Think You Are? 13 Sept. 2010
  15. McQuaid, Peter. "The artful swinger – bisexual actor Alan Cumming – Brief Article – Interview." The Advocate. 28 September 1999.
  16. Finn, Natalie. Alan Cumming Groomed for Marriage. 8 January 2007.
  17. 'Exclusive! Alan Cumming opens right up,', August 31, 2007.
  18. Walsh, Jeff. "Alan Cumming: Interview." Oasis Journals. November 2007.
  19. Higginbotham, Adam Cumming out on top The Observer, Sunday 16 February 2003.
  20. David Mattin (2006-07-18). "Odd man out: Alan Cumming". London: Times. 
  21. NORM-UK News Item: "Film Star Wants the Foreskin to be with you." 11 June 2007.
  22. "X-Man Nixes Circs." 11 June 2007.
  23. GLAAD To Honor Billy Crystal, Alan Cumming at 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Presented by Absolut Vodka. GLAAD Press Release. 7 March 2005.
  24. "Queen's birthday honours list: Diplomatic service and overseas list". The Guardian. 2009-06-13. Actor, Producer and Presenter. For serv film, theatre and the arts and to activism for equal rights for the gay and lesbian commty 
  25. "Bi OBE". Bi Media. 2009-11-25. He was honoured for services to film, theatre and the arts – and for his work as a bisexual, lesbian and gay rights campaigner. “I have a voice because of my work. I’m loud and I speak my mind,” he said. 
  26. Template:LondonGazette
  27. Cumming's Blog
  28. Ross, Peter, Alan Cumming interview: seen the future, got the t-shirt, Scotland on Sunday, November 2, 2008.

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name
  1. REDIRECT Template:DramaDesk MusicalActor 1975–2000
  2. REDIRECT Template:TonyAward MusicalLeadActor 1976–2000
id:Alan Cumming

it:Alan Cumming he:אלן קאמינג la:Alanus Cumming nl:Alan Cummingpl:Alan Cummingro:Alan Cumming ru:Камминг, Алан fi:Alan Cumming sv:Alan Cumming zh:亞倫·甘明

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