Brenda Fricker
Fricker at the 62nd Academy Awards in March 1990
Born (1938-02-17) 17 February 1938 (age 86)
Dublin, Ireland
Years active1964–present
Barry Davies
(m. 1979; div. 1988)

Brenda Fricker (born 17 February 1938) is an Irish actress, whose career has spanned six decades on stage and screen. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. In 1990, she became the first Irish actress to win an Academy Award, earning the award for Best Supporting Actress for the biopic My Left Foot (1989). She also appeared in films such as The Field (1990), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), Angels in the Outfield (1994), A Time to Kill (1996), Veronica Guerin (2003), Inside I'm Dancing (2004) and Albert Nobbs (2011).

In 2008, Fricker was honoured with the inaugural Maureen O'Hara Award at the Kerry Film Festival. In 2020, The Irish Times ranked her 26th on its list of the greatest Irish film actors of all time.

Early life

Fricker was born in Dublin, Ireland.[1] Her mother, "Bina" (née Murphy), was a teacher at Stratford College in Rathgar, and her father, Desmond Frederick Fricker, served in the Department of Agriculture and as 'Fred Desmond' a broadcaster with RTÉ and a journalist for The Irish Times.[2]

Before becoming an actress, Fricker was assistant to the art editor of the Irish Times, with hopes of becoming a reporter. At age 19, she became an actress "by chance".[3] Her feature film career began with a small uncredited part in the 1964 film Of Human Bondage, based on the 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. She also appeared in Tolka Row, Ireland's first soap opera.


One of Fricker's first TV roles was staff nurse Maloney in Coronation Street, debuting on 10 January 1977. Brenda's character attended on the birth of Tracy Barlow on 24 January 1977's episode. Fricker came to wider public attention in the United Kingdom in another nursing role, as Megan Roach in the BBC One television drama series Casualty. Fricker bowed out as Megan in December 1990, after playing the character in 65 episodes, because she believed her character had "started off with a wonderful sense of humour, [but] lost it all and all she ever seemed to do was push a trolley around and offer tea and sympathy".[3] In February 1998 she appeared in two episodes, with Megan attending the wedding of her former colleagues Charlie Fairhead and Barbara 'Baz' Samuels. In 2007, she returned for a single episode for Red Nose Day. The episode was written by Richard Curtis.[citation needed] Fricker's final appearance as Megan was in August 2010, when the character took a lethal cocktail of drugs to end her life.

Fricker found international acclaim after she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1990 for her performance as Christy Brown's mother in My Left Foot (1989). In her acceptance speech, Brenda thanked Brown "just for being alive" and also dedicated the Oscar to Brown's mother, saying "anybody who gives birth 22 times deserves one of these". For her performance, Fricker was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award and she won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress as well. She rejoined My Left Foot writer and director Jim Sheridan to make the 1990 film The Field, starring alongside Richard Harris as Maggie McCabe, the wife of Harris' "Bull" McCabe. She continued her television work during this period, starring in the Australian-produced short series Brides of Christ (1991) and the miniseries Seekers (1992) alongside Josette Simon, produced by Sarah Lawson.

Buoyed by her Oscar win, Fricker went on to appear in several high-profile Hollywood films, most notably 1992's Home Alone 2: Lost in New York as the Central Park Pigeon Lady. In 1993, she portrayed May Mackenzie, the Weekly World News-obsessed Scottish mother of Mike Myers' Charlie Mackenzie, in So I Married an Axe Murderer, and then portrayed Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character's motherly caretaker Maggie in the 1994 family comedy Angels in the Outfield. One of her last Hollywood film roles came with A Time to Kill, as Ethel Twitty (loyal secretary to Matthew McConaughey's Jake Brigance), after which she has focused almost exclusively on film and television work in Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 2003, she played Bernie Guerin, mother of Veronica Guerin (played by Cate Blanchett) in the film of the same name. She then played nurse Eileen in the film Inside I'm Dancing. In 2007, she starred in How About You the film based on a short story about people living in a residential nursing home written by Maeve Binchy, playing Heather Nightangle. Other important roles were Omagh in 2004 as police Ombudsman Nuala O' Loan, as Graiine McFadden in the TV docudrama No Tears about the women treated with the blood product Anti D in the 1970s who had been contaminated with Hepatitis C, and as Aunt Maeve in Durango in 1999, based on the novel by John B. Keane.

Fricker has appeared in Closing the Ring, Richard Attenborough's post-World War II drama, also starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Mischa Barton. In 2012, a high-profile supporting role in Albert Nobbs earned Fricker an Irish Film Award nomination, and along with Olympia Dukakis she became half of the first pair of Oscar-winning actors to play a same-sex couple in Cloudburst.

In 2021 Fricker joined the cast of the TV adaptation of Holding, based on the book of the same name by Graham Norton, marking her first major onscreen role in six years.[4]

Fricker at the 2014 Dublin Film Festival

Personal life

Fricker lives in the Liberties, Dublin. She was previously married to director Barry Davis, until their divorce in 1988.[citation needed] She said that her loves include her pet dogs, drinking Guinness, reading poetry and playing snooker (she once stated that she had taken on the whole crew of My Left Foot. "I played pool against 17 of them, and beat them all," Fricker said).[3]

In 2012, Fricker said "Of all the films I’ve made, only three do I remember where I felt I’d moved forward as an actress: Cloudburst, My Left Foot and The Field."[5]

Awards and recognition

In 1989 she became the first Irish actress to win an Academy Award for her role in My Left Foot, in the Best Supporting Actress category. In 2008 Fricker was honoured with the inaugural Maureen O'Hara Award at the Kerry Film Festival.[6] In 2020, The Irish Times ranked her 26th on its list of the greatest Irish film actors of all time.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Of Human Bondage Uncredited
1969 Sinful Davey Uncredited
1975 Upstairs, Downstairs Uncredited (extra)
1976 Play for Today Molly 1 episode Your Man From Six Counties
1977 Coronation Street Staff Nurse Maloney 4 episode arc
1978–1979 The Quatermass Conclusion Alison Thorpe Television series
1979 The Music Machine Mrs Pearson
1980 Bloody Kids Nurse
1982 The Ballroom of Romance Bridie
1984 Cockles Ms Kyte Television series
1985 The Woman Who Married Clark Gable Mary
Casualty Megan Roach Television series
1989 My Left Foot Bridget Fagan Brown
1990 The Field Maggie McCabe
1991 Brides of Christ Sister Agnes
1992 The Sound and the Silence Eliza Television series
1992 Utz Marta
1992 Seekers Stella Hazard Television series
1992 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York Central Park Pigeon Woman
1993 So I Married an Axe Murderer May Mackenzie
1993 Deadly Advice Iris Greenwood
1994 A Man of No Importance Lily Byrne
1994 Angels in the Outfield Maggie Nelson
1995 Journey Lottie Television film
A Woman of Independent Means Mother Steed Television mini-series
1996 Moll Flanders Mrs. Mazzawatti
A Time to Kill Ethel Twitty Nominated—Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Swann Rose Hindmarch Nominated—Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
1997 Masterminds Principal Claire Maloney
1998 Painted Angels Annie Ryan
Resurrection Man Dorcas Kelly
Pete's Meteor Lily
1999 Resurrection Clare's mother Television remake of 1980 original
Durango Aunt Maeve
2000 Cupid & Cate Willie Hendley
2001 The War Bride Betty Nominated—Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
2002 The Intended Mrs Jones
2003 Conspiracy of Silence Annie McLaughlin
Veronica Guerin Bernadette "Bernie" Guerin Nominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
Watermelon Teresa Ryan
2004 Trauma Petra
Omagh Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan Television film
Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss Madame Alex Television film
Inside I'm Dancing Eileen Nominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Actress – Film
Razor Fish Molly
2005 Milk Nan
Tara Road Mona
2007 How About You
Closing the Ring Grandma Reilly
2008 Stone of Destiny Mrs. McQuarry
Beautiful People Narg Episode: "How I Got My Beads"
2010 Locked In Joan
2011 Cloudburst Dot
Albert Nobbs Polly Nominated—Irish Film & Television Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
2013 A Long Way from Home Brenda
Forgive Me Mrs. Smith 3 episodes
2014 Deadly Bridie Short
2021 Cam Boy Tilda Episode: "Take My Webcam Virginity"
2022 Holding Lizzie Meany [4]
2023 The Catch [8] Phyllis Doyle [9] All 4 episodes [9]
The Miracle Club voice of Maureen Voice only

Selected theatre work

See also


  1. ^ "Brenda Fricker Biography" at
  2. ^ The Sunday Times, November 2, 2008, "Profile: Brenda Fricker, the star who makes Home Alone true"
  3. ^ a b c d | Casualty | Brenda Fricker Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "Best of Irish as Graham Norton's Holding begins filming in West Cork". 29 July 2021. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  5. ^ Barnard, Elissa (11 December 2012). "Actress hails Cloudburst". The Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  6. ^ Lucey, Anne (10 November 2008). "Brenda Fricker receives film award". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  7. ^ Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara (13 June 2020). "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  8. ^ "The Catch: Release date, cast and news for Channel 5 drama". 11 January 2023.
  9. ^ a b "The Catch: Meet the cast of the channel 5 drama - including this Midsomer Murders star". 25 January 2023.