Joan Cusack
Cusack in 2009
Joan Mary Cusack

(1962-10-11) October 11, 1962 (age 60)
New York City, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison
Years active1979–present
Richard Burke
(m. 1996)
ParentDick Cusack (father)

Joan Mary Cusack (/ˈkjuːsæk/; born October 11, 1962)[1][2] is an American actress. She received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles in the comedy-drama Working Girl (1988) and the romantic comedy In & Out (1997). Her other starring roles include those in Toys (1992), Nine Months (1995), Cradle Will Rock (1999), Where the Heart Is (2000), and Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008). She has also provided the voice of Jessie in the Toy Story franchise (1999–present) for which she won an Annie Award and Abby Mallard in Chicken Little (2005).

Cusack was a cast member on the comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1986. She starred on the Showtime hit drama/comedy series Shameless (2011–2021) as Sheila Jackson, a role for which she received five consecutive Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning for the first time in 2015. She is the sister of actress Ann Cusack and actor John Cusack.

Early life

Cusack was born on October 11, 1962, in New York City and was raised in Evanston, Illinois.[3] Her mother, Ann Paula "Nancy" Cusack (née Carolan),[4] was a former mathematics teacher and political activist.[5][6][7] Her father, Dick Cusack, was an actor and filmmaker, and two of her four siblings, Ann and John, are actors. Her family is of Irish Catholic descent.[8] Cusack is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1984).[9]


Cusack has twice been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Working Girl (1988) and In & Out (1997).[citation needed] She has appeared with her brother John in 10 movies: Class (1983), Sixteen Candles (1984), Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), Broadcast News (1987), Say Anything... (1989), Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Cradle Will Rock (1999), High Fidelity (2000), Martian Child (2007), and War, Inc. (2008).

In the film Addams Family Values (1993), she played psychotic serial killer Debbie Jellinsky, who marries and kills rich men. She also starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom What About Joan? in 2001 and the hit film Arlington Road (1999). For many years, Cusack was also the commercial spokeswoman for U.S. Cellular. One of Cusack's most well-known roles was the principal of Horace Green Elementary School, Rosalie 'Roz' Mullins, in School of Rock (2003). She also voiced Jessie in the Pixar hits Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Toy Story 4 (2019), and played Dr. Burton, the therapist of Charlie (Logan Lerman), in the teen film The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). She also played Erin's mom in the final episode of NBC's The Office.

Cusack was a cast member on the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1986. Her recurring characters on SNL included Salena, a socially inept girl who tries to ask out her boyfriend, Biff (played by Jon Lovitz), who is also socially inept. In addition, she did celebrity impersonations of Brooke Shields, Jane Fonda, and Queen Elizabeth II.

She has been nominated four times for the American Comedy Award in the category of Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture and has won three times, for Runaway Bride (1999), In & Out (1997), and Working Girl (1988). She has also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress for In & Out.[citation needed]

Cusack narrates the public-TV animated series Peep and the Big Wide World. In September 2010, Cusack guest-starred on NBC's Law & Order: SVU.[10]

She also appeared as Justice Strauss in Netflix's adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which premiered in 2017.[11]

Cusack also appeared as the Tin Foil Lady in the Netflix movie Let It Snow, which was released in November 2019.


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In 2010, Cusack joined the Showtime drama/comedy Shameless as Sheila Jackson, the mother of Karen Jackson (Laura Slade Wiggins). The first season premiered on January 9, 2011, and had its first finale March 27, 2011. Cusack replaced actress Allison Janney, who portrayed the role in the first edit of the pilot episode. Janney took the role with the understanding the character would be less prominent on the show, but when producers decided to increase the character's screen presence, she was forced to pull out of the part to honor her series commitment on the ABC comedy Mr. Sunshine. Cusack has received critical acclaim for her performance, receiving Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series nominations in 2011, 2012, and 2013, as well as a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015, winning in the later year.

Personal life

Cusack married attorney Richard Burke, President and CEO of Envoy Global, Inc. in 1996.[12][13] They have two sons: Dylan John and Miles.[14] She discovered she was pregnant with her first child on her first day of shooting the movie Mr. Wrong (1996). Cusack owns a home in Three Oaks Township, Michigan, and lives in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2003, both Joan and her brother John signed the "Not in My Name" resolution (along with people such as Noam Chomsky and Susan Sarandon) opposing the invasion of Iraq.[citation needed]

Since 2011, Cusack has owned Judy Maxwell Home, a gift shop in Old Town, Chicago.[15] The shop is named for Barbra Streisand's character in What's Up Doc?, Cusack's favorite movie.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Cutting Loose
1980 My Bodyguard Shelley
1983 Class Julia
1984 Sixteen Candles Geek Girl #1
1984 Grandview, U.S.A. Mary Maine
1987 The Allnighter Gina
1987 Broadcast News Blair Litton
1988 Stars and Bars Irene Stein
1988 Married to the Mob Rose
1988 Working Girl Cyn
1989 Say Anything... Constance Dobler Uncredited
1990 Men Don't Leave Jody
1990 My Blue Heaven Hannah Stubs
1991 The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez Cathy Also writer
1992 Hero Evelyn Laplante
1992 Toys Alsatia Zevo
1993 Addams Family Values Debbie Jellinsky
1994 Corrina, Corrina Jonesy
1995 Nine Months Gail Dwyer
1995 Two Much Gloria
1996 Mr. Wrong Inga Gunther
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Marcella Mayes
1997 A Smile Like Yours Nancy Tellen
1997 In & Out Emily Montgomery
1999 Arlington Road Cheryl Lang
1999 Cradle Will Rock Hazel Huffman
1999 Runaway Bride Peggy Flemming
1999 Toy Story 2 Jessie (voice)
2000 High Fidelity Liz
2000 Where the Heart Is Ruth Meyers
2002 It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Rachel Bitterman
2003 School of Rock Rosalie Mullins
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Mother
2004 Raising Helen Jenny Portman
2004 The Last Shot Fanny Nash
2005 Ice Princess Joan Carlyle
2005 Chicken Little Abby Mallard (voice)
2006 Friends with Money Franny
2007 Martian Child Liz Gordon
2008 War, Inc. Marsha Dillon
2008 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Miss Lucinda Bond
2009 Confessions of a Shopaholic Jane Bloomwood
2009 My Sister's Keeper Judge De Salvo
2009 Acceptance Nina Rockefeller
2010 Toy Story 3 Jessie (voice)
2011 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Verushka (voice)
2011 Mars Needs Moms Milo's Mom (voice) Also motion-capture
2011 Hawaiian Vacation Jessie (voice) Short film
2011 Small Fry Jessie (voice) Short film
2011 Arthur Christmas Mission Control Elf (voice)
2012 Partysaurus Rex Jessie (voice) Short film
2012 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Dr. Burton
2014 Welcome to Me Dawn Hurley
2015 The End of the Tour Patty Gunderson
2015 Freaks of Nature Peg Parker
2016 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Tilly Friel
2017 Snatched Barb
2017 Unicorn Store Gladys
2018 Instant Family Mrs. Howard
2019 Toy Story 4 Jessie (voice)
2019 Let It Snow Tin Foil Woman
2019 Klaus Mrs. Tammy Krum (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1985–1986 Saturday Night Live Various Characters 17 episodes
2000 Sesame Street Herself 1 episode
2000 72nd Academy Awards Jessie (voice) Television special
2001–2002 What About Joan? Joan Gallagher Lead role
2004–2011 Peep and the Big Wide World Narrator (voice) Main role
2010 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Pamela Burton Episode: "Locum"
2011–2015 Shameless Sheila Jackson Recurring role (seasons 1–5)
2011 Phineas and Ferb Glenda Wilkins (voice) Episode: "Last Train to Bustville"
2013 The Office Erin's Biological Mother Episode: "Finale"
2013 Toy Story of Terror! Jessie (voice) Television special
2014 Toy Story That Time Forgot Jessie (voice) Television special
2016–2019 The Stinky & Dirty Show Red (voice) 8 episodes
2017, 2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events Justice Strauss 4 episodes
2017 The Christmas Train Agnes Television film
2020 Homecoming Francine Bunda 3 episodes

Video games

Year Title Voice role Notes
1999 Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue Jessie
2005 Chicken Little Abby Mallard Archive recordings
2006 Chicken Little: Ace in Action Abby Mallard
2010 Toy Story 3: The Video Game Jessie
2011 Kinect: Disneyland Adventures Jessie
2012 Kinect Rush: A Disney–Pixar Adventure Jessie
2016 Disney Magic Kingdoms Jessie Initial release; voice lines were later removed in an update
2023 Disney Speedstorm Jessie

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Joan Cusack


  1. ^ Joan Cusack Biography.
  2. ^ "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly. No. 1228/1229. Time Inc. October 12–19, 2012. p. 23.
  3. ^ Allan Johnson (January 3, 2001). "Cusack Puts Chicago on the Laugh Track". Archived from the original on January 6, 2009.
  5. ^ "Cusack, Richard J." Chicago Tribune. June 3, 2003. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  6. ^ "Miss Carolan, Newton Centre, Is Bride of Richard Cusack". Daily Boston Globe. February 14, 1960. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013.
  7. ^ "Newton Girl Plans February Wedding". Daily Boston Globe. December 6, 1959. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013.
  8. ^ "Q&A – Mars Needs Moms' Joan Cusack on Toy Story's Oscar and Irish-Catholic Guilt". March 2011.
  9. ^ "Cusack is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin–Madison". Celebrity Ping. July 4, 2018. Archived from the original on October 5, 2018. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "Exclusive: Joan Cusack Signs on to Law & Order: SVU".
  11. ^ Sean Fitz-Gerald (January 13, 2017). "Every 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Actor You Need to Know About". Thrillist. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  12. ^ "Dick Burke, JD". May 2021.
  13. ^ "Catching up with Joan Cusack". Chicago Tribune.
  14. ^ "Catching up with Joan Cusack". Chicago Tribune.
  15. ^ Larson, Lauren (December 16, 2019). "Joan Cusack Has a Tchotchke Shop of Her Own". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  16. ^ Shropshire, Corilyn. "Joan Cusack playing 'intern' at Judy Maxwell Home store". Retrieved May 3, 2020.