Niamh Cusack (63) is an actress and daughter of actors Cyril Cusack and Maureen Cusack. Cyril was the subject of a TG4 documentary on Christmas Day. Born in Dublin, she grew up in Dalkey. She lives in London with her husband Irish actor Finbar Lynch. Their son, Calam (28 years old) is also an actor.
I am accident prone. I don’t think I’ve spent a week of my childhood anywhere without a bandage. I’m always out in the garden in my own world, making up stories.
Choose three words to describe yourself.
Warm, reflective and dispersed.
Tell us about your childhood.
My mother wanted to give us the most normal education possible. My father Cyril is not here much. He is away for work.
The best Christmas as a child?
I remember Santa coming at midnight. I knew he was coming because I could smell satsumas and hear rustling but I closed my eyes anyway.
The best Christmas as an adult?
When my son was five, he wanted a cowboy suit. At 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, he came to our room, fully dressed in Santa’s gifts – ready to enter the world.
Tell us about your life before you became an actress.
I am a classical musician and I played in the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra for a year after graduating from university.
Where does music come from?
Video of the day
My mother really wanted none of us to be actors. She thought it was a very precarious profession, and she was right. She is an actress and married to an actor, she was impressed by the change of profession. And that is a fact. You can never be sure where the next job will come from, so you have to have the guts to deal with that. Mom wants us to be electricians or plumbers. It doesn’t work. We all went into art.
Tell us about your other hobbies as a kid.
We studied tennis, ballet and music. I had great teachers in the Academy in Dublin. The flute is my first instrument and the piano is my second. I won a scholarship to the Royal Academy in London and I studied there for three years.
Why did you end up becoming an actress?
I couldn’t get a job as a musician in London, so I tried to sign up for French classes. They were full but the acting classes weren’t, so I signed up. I know that’s what I want to do. after i did A woman is not important in 1984, I never looked back.
Tell us about your memories of watching your dad on stage.
I acted with him in Chekhov’s Three sisters. During a technical run, I stood at the back of the theater and watched his performance. That’s not him and that’s him. There are such details. I realized why my mother loved him so much. She saw him on stage one night and said, “That’s the man I’m going to marry.” Like Fluther in Plow and the starshe had to fix the lock on a door and he was actually fixing that lock.
Any acting tips from him?
He thought I was too quiet and said that no one would hear me through the first two rows. Years later, he told my husband that I could fly. I remember him visiting me after a play. He was clearly emotional.
Where did your love for the Irish language come from?
My parents were founding members of Scoil Lorcón. My father taught himself Irish. His mother is British and his father is second generation Irish. He is very proud of Irish and considers it a beautiful language.
Tell us about your father’s passion.
I remember him striding down Vico Street with his cane, and I followed. He wanted to share his passion with us – walking and swimming in White Rock. He used to pick us up after music lessons at Westland Row, then he took us around the National Gallery. He would give us tea and cake as a reward for looking at paintings by Jack B Yeats or Walter Osborne for what seemed like the billionth time.
‘Cyril Cusack: Lár an Stáitse’, December 25 on TG4 at 9:30pm
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/niamh-cusack-my-mother-was-keen-that-none-of-us-would-become-actors-she-thought-it-was-a-very-unstable-profession-and-right-she-was-42225872.html Niamh Cusack: ‘My mom really wanted none of us to be actors. She thinks it’s a very precarious profession, and it is.’