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For the English-born American movie critic, see Steven Rea.

Stephen Rea (born Graham Rea; 31 October 1946) is an Irish actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his lead performance as Fergus in the 1992 film The Crying Game.

Early life

Rea was born in Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker, the son of a bus driver. One of four children in a working-class Presbyterian family, he attended Belfast High School and the Queen's University of Belfastmarker, taking a degree in English.


Rea trained at the Abbey Theatremarker School in Dublinmarker. In the late 1970s, he acted in the Focus Company in Dublin with Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. During the broadcasting ban on Sinn Féin imposed by Margaret Thatcher's government, in order to cut the 'oxygen of publicity', it was interpreted that Sinn Féin members could not be heard making statements expressing the views of Sinn Féin, so Rea was one of many actors contacted to provide an actor's voice to get around that problem. After appearing on the stage and in television and film for many years in Ireland and Britainmarker, Rea came to international attention when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film The Crying Game. He is a frequent collaborator with Irish film maker Neil Jordan. Rea has long been associated with some of the most important writers in Irelandmarker. His association with playwright Stewart Parker (1941-1988) for example, began when they were students together at the Queen's University of Belfast.

Rea helped establish the Field Day Theatre Company in 1980 with Tom Paulin, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, and Seamus Deane. In recognition for his contribution to theatre and performing arts, Rea was given honorary degrees from both the Queen's University of Belfast and the University of Ulster in 2004.

Personal life

Rea was married to former Provisional Irish Republican Army member and hunger striker, Dolours Price from 1983 to 2003. They have two children.

Stephen Rea is an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland.


Year Film Role Notes
1970 Cry of the Banshee Villager
1978 The Professionals Pellin Episode: "In the public interest"
1978 On a Paving Stone Mounted
1982 Angel Danny
1983 Loose Connections Harry
1984 The Company of Wolves Young Groom
1985 The Doctor and the Devils Timothy Broom
1990 Not with a Bang Colin Garrity TV series
1991 Life Is Sweet Patsy
1992 The Crying Game Fergus National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor

1993 Hedda Gabler Ejlert Lovborg TV
Bad Behaviour Gerry McAllister
1994 Princess Caraboo Gutch
Angie Noel Riordan
Interview with the Vampire Santiago
Prêt-à-Porter Milo O'Brannigan National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1995 Citizen X Lt. Viktor Burakov (TV)
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Nikos
All Men are Mortal Fosca
1996 Trojan Eddie Trojan Eddie
Michael Collins Ned Broy
Crime of the Century Bruno Richard Hauptmann Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film
The Last of the High Kings Cab Driver
1997 Double Tap Cypher
Fever Pitch Ray, the Governor
The Butcher Boy Da Brady
Hacks Brian
A Further Gesture Sean Dowd
1998 Still Crazy Tony Costello
This Is My Father Father Quinn
1999 Guinevere Connie Fitzpatrick
The End of the Affair Henry Miles
The Life Before This Brian
In Dreams Doctor Silverman
2000 The King's Wake King Connor Mac Neasa (voice)
2001 The Musketeer Cardinal Richelieu
On the Edge Dr. Figure
2002 FeardotCom Alistair Pratt, 'The Doctor'
Evelyn Michael Beattie
2003 The i Inside Doctor Newman
Bloom Leopold Bloom
2004 Fluent Dysphasia Murph
Control Dr. Arlo Penner
Proud Barney Garvey
The Confessor McCaran alternate title The Good Shepherd
The Halo Effect Fatso Nominated — Irish Film and Television Awards — Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Film
2005 Breakfast on Pluto Bertie Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Film
Tara Road Colm
River Queen Francis
V for Vendetta Inspector Finch
2006 Sisters Dr. Philip Lacan
Sixty Six Dr. Barrie
2007 Until Death Gabriel Callaghan
The Reaping Father Costigan
Stuck Thomas Bardo
2008 The Devil's Mercy Tyler
Heidi 4 Paws Doctor (voice)
Kisses Down Under Dylan uncredited
The Heavy Anawalt
2009 Nothing Personal Martin post-production
Ondine post-production
Purple America Lou pre-production


  1. Stephen Rea: An Appreciation, Rea's website, sourced from The Times
  2. Stephen Rea article in The Times, February 1998; posted at Rea's website.
  3. Queen's University Belfast | 06-2004 Press Releases
  4. University Of Ulster News Release - Honour for Stephen Rea

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