Stephen Rea
Rea at JDIFF 2012
Born (1946-10-31) October 31, 1946 (age 77)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Years active1962–present
(m. 1983; div. 2003)

Stephen Rea (/ˈr/ ray; born 31 October 1946)[1] is an Irish actor of stage and screen.[2] Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he began his career as a member of Dublin's Focus Theatre, and came to the attention of film audiences as one of the close collaborators of director Neil Jordan. He is an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Tony Award nominee, a two-time BAFTA Award winner, and a three-time Irish Film and Television (IFTA) Award winner.

Rea was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA Award for his performance in Jordan's thriller The Crying Game (1992). He also starred in Jordan's films Interview with the Vampire (1994), Michael Collins (1996), The End of the Affair (1999), Breakfast on Pluto (2005), and Greta (2018).

He played starring roles in the Hugo Blick TV series The Shadow Line and The Honourable Woman, for which he won a BAFTA. As a stage actor, he is known for his performances at The Gate and Abbey Theatres in Dublin, and the Royal Court Theatre in London. He is a co-founder of the Field Day Theatre Company with Brian Friel.

In 2020, The Irish Times ranked Rea the 13th greatest Irish film actor of all time.[3]

Early life

Rea was born in Belfast. His father was a bus driver and his mother a housewife.[4] His family was Protestant but sympathetic to Irish nationalism.[5] He studied English at the Queen's University Belfast and drama at the Abbey Theatre School in Dublin.[4]

In the late 1970s, he acted in the Focus Company in Dublin with Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney.


After appearing on the stage and in television and film for many years in Ireland and England, 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 Ireland. His association with playwright Stewart Parker, for example, began when they were students together at the Queen's University 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 Belfast[6] and the Ulster University[7] in 2004.

Rea's friendship with American playwright and actor Sam Shepard dates back to the early 1970s, and he starred in Shepard's directorial début of his play Geography of a Horse Dreamer at the Royal Court Theatre in 1974. In 2007, Rea began a successful and acclaimed relationship with both the Abbey Theatre and Sam Shepard, appearing in Kicking a Dead Horse (2007) and Ages of the Moon (2009), both penned by Shepard and also both transferred to New York.[8] Rea returned to the Abbey in 2009 to appear in the world première of Sebastian Barry's Tales of Ballycumber.[9]

Rea was hired to speak the words of Gerry Adams when Sinn Féin was under a 1988–94 broadcasting ban.[10]

In 2011, Rea featured in the BBC crime drama The Shadow Line, playing antagonist Gatehouse.

In April 2012, Rea read James Joyce's short story The Dead on RTÉ Radio 1.[11] He also narrated for the BBC Radio 4 production of Ulysses for Bloomsday, 16 June 2012.

Stephen Rea in 2010

Rea starred in Enda Walsh's 2014 play Ballyturk and portrayed Jordan in Out of the Dark,[12] in which he co-stars alongside Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman and Alejandro Furth.[13][14]

In 2023, Rea appeared as Frank, husband to Eileen (played by Kathy Bates) in the film The Miracle Club.

Recognition and awards

Rea was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Crying Game (1992). He won a BAFTA Award for his role in The Honourable Woman.[15]

In 2020, The Irish Times ranked Rea the 13th greatest Irish film actor of all time.[16]

Other activities

As of 2012, Rea was an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland.[17]

Personal life

From 1983 to 2003 Rea was married to Dolours Price, a former Provisional Irish Republican Army bomber and hunger striker who later became a critic of Sinn Féin.[18][19] They have two sons.[20] They divorced in 2003.[21][22]

Before the marriage, Price attended a performance of Rea's at the Court Theatre in London in 1973, the night before she participated in a car bombing which injured 200 people.[23]

As of 2020, Rea lives in County Donegal.[24]


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Year Title Role Notes
1970 Cry of the Banshee Villager
1982 Angel Danny
1984 The Company of Wolves Young Groom
1985 The Doctor and the Devils Timothy Broom
1985 Loose Connections Harry
1990 Life Is Sweet Patsy
1992 The Crying Game Fergus
1993 Bad Behaviour Gerry McAllister
1994 Angie Noel
1994 Princess Caraboo Gutch
1994 Interview with the Vampire Santiago
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Milo O'Brannigan
1995 Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Nikos
1995 All Men Are Mortal Fosca
1996 Michael Collins Ned Broy
1996 Trojan Eddie Eddie "Trojan Eddie"
1996 The Last of the High Kings Cab Driver
1997 Fever Pitch Ray
1997 The Butcher Boy Benny Brady
1997 The Break Sean Dowd
1997 Double Tap Cypher
1997 Hacks Brian
1998 This Is My Father Mission Priest Cameo
1998 Still Crazy Tony Costello
1999 In Dreams Dr. Silverman
1999 Guinevere Connie Fitzpatrick
1999 I Could Read the Sky P.J. Doran
1999 The Life Before This Brian
1999 The End of the Affair Henry Miles
2000 The King's Wake King Connor Mac Neasa (Voice) Short film
2001 The Musketeer Cardinal Richelieu
2001 On the Edge Dr. Figure
2002 FeardotCom Alistair Pratt
2002 Evelyn Michael Beattie
2003 Bloom Leopold Bloom
2004 The I Inside Dr. Newman
2004 The Halo Effect "Fatso"
2004 The Confessor McCaran
2004 Fluent Dysphasia "Murph" Short film
2004 Proud Barney Garvey
2004 Control Dr. Arlo Penner
2005 Breakfast on Pluto Bertie Vaughan
2005 River Queen Francis
2005 Tara Road Colm Maguire
2006 V for Vendetta Chief Inspector Eric Finch
2006 Sisters Dr. Philip Lacan
2006 Sixty Six Dr. Barrie
2007 Until Death Gabriel Callaghan
2007 The Reaping Father Michael Costigan
2007 Stuck Thomas Bardo
2008 The Devil's Mercy Tyler
2008 Kisses "Down Under" Dylan Uncredited cameo
2009 Spy(ies) M. Palmer
2009 Child of the Dead End Patrick MacGill
2009 Nothing Personal Martin
2009 The Heavy Jameson Anawalt
2009 Ondine Priest
2011 Blackthorn MacKinley
2011 Stella Days Brendan McSweeney
2012 Underworld: Awakening Dr. Jacob Lane
2012 Werewolf: The Beast Among Us Doc Direct-to-DVD
2013 Tasting Menu Walter
2014 Asylum McGahey
2014 Styria Dr. Hill
2014 Out of the Dark Jordan
2015 Ruby Strangelove Young Witch Danforth
2015 An Enchanted Ruby Danforth
2018 Black '47 Conneely
2018 Greta Brian Cody
2018 Unquiet Graves Narrator Documentary about the Troubles
2021 Nightride Joe Voice
2023 The Miracle Club Frank Dunne


Year Title Role Notes
1964 Crossroads Pepe Costa
1967 Angel Pavement Second Mate Episode: "They Arrive"
1967 Sanctuary Stephen Moriarty Episode: "The Voice of His Calling"
1969 Z-Cars Kenny Episode: "Snout: Part 2"
1970 Softly, Softly: Task Force Philip Conner Episode: "Trust a Woman"
1971 Omnibus Hubert Page Episode: "Hail and Farewell-George Moore"
1972 The Moonstone Major Frayne Episode: "1.1"
1974 Thriller Arden Buckley Episode: "K is for Killing" (US Title: "Color Him Dead")
1974–1979 Play for Today Peter / Chas / Shay 3 episodes
1975–1976 I Didn't Know You Cared Carter Brandon 13 episodes - (series 1 & 2 only; not in series 3 & 4)
1977 BBC2 Play of the Week Hollar Episode: "Professional Foul"
1978 Play of the Month Constantin Episode: "The Seagull"
1978 The Professionals Pellin Episode: "In the Public Interest"
1978 Thank You, Comrades Mayakovsky TV film
1980 Caleb Williams Tyrell Episode: "1.1"
1982 Joyce in June Stanislaus Joyce / McIntosh TV film
1984 Minder Roddy Allan Episode: "Windows"
1984 Four Days in July Dixie TV film
1986 Boon Frank Warren Episode: "Fools Rush In"
1986 Screen Two Frankie Episode: "Shergar"
1987 Lost Belongings Lenny 2 episodes
1987 Scout Marshall TV film
1989 4 Play Paul Segment: "Not As Bad as They Seem"
1989 Endgame Clov TV film
1990 Not with a Bang Colin Garrity 7 episodes
1993 Saturday Night Live Fergus (Uncredited) Episode: "Miranda Richardson/Soul Asylum"
1993–1995 Performance Ejlert Lovborg / Seamus Shields 2 episodes
1995 Citizen X Lieutenant Viktor Burakov TV film
1996 Crime of the Century Bruno Hauptmann TV film
2001 A Scare at Bedtime Dr. Roger St. Roctor Episode: "Not What the Doctor Ordered"
2001 Snow in August Rabbi Judah Hirsch TV film
2001 Armadillo Hogg 3 episodes
2001–2002 Horrible Histories Narrator (voice, UK dub) 26 episodes
2002 Copenhagen Niels Bohr TV film
2007 Imeacht Na N'Iarlaí Aodh Ó Néill, Tiarna Thir Eoghain Episode: "1"
2008 10 Days to War Tim Cross Episode: "These Things Are Always Chaos"
2009 Father & Son Augustine Flynn 4 episodes
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Callum "Cal" Donovan Episode: "Solitary"
2009 Heidi 4 Paws The Doctor (voice) TV film
2010 Single-Handed Sean Doyle Episodes: "The Lost Boys: Parts 1 & 2"
2011 Roadkill Seamus TV film
2011 The Shadow Line Gatehouse 6 episodes
2013 Utopia Conran Letts 5 episodes
2014 The Honourable Woman Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle 8 episodes
2015–2016 Dickensian Inspector Bucket 16 episodes
2016 War & Peace Prince Vassily Kuragin 5 episodes
2016 Fir Bolg Spencer Episode: "Nochtadh"
2018 Counterpart Alexander Pope 7 episodes
2018 Thanksgiving Melchior 3 episodes
2020 The Stranger Martin Killane 8 episodes
2020 Flesh and Blood Mark 4 episodes
2022 The English Sheriff Robert Marshall 6 episodes
TBA Prime Target Upcoming miniseries


Year Title Playwright Venue
1967 Shadow of a Gunman Sean O'Casey The Mermaid Theatre, London
1969 Captain Oates' Left Sock John Antrobus Royal Court Theatre, London
1971 Crete and Sargent Pepper John Antrobus
1973 The Freedom of the City Brian Friel
1973 The Duchess of Malfi John Webster 7:84 Theatre Company, London
1973 Sargent Musgraves John Arden The Gate, Dublin
1973 The White Devil John Webster Nottingham Playhouse
1973 Drums in the Night Bertold Brecht Hampstead Theatre, London
1974 Geography of a Horse Dreamer Sam Shepard Royal Court Theatre, London
1974 Comedians Trevor Griffiths Nottingham Playhouse
1980 Translations Brian Friel Field Day Theatre Company
1981 Three Sisters Anton Chekhov adapt. Brian Friel
1982 The Communication Cord Brian Friel
1984 High Time Derek Mahon
1984 The Riot Act Tom Paulin
1986 Double Cross Thomas Kilroy
1987 Pentecost Stewart Parker
1989 Saint Oscar Terry Eagleton
2014 Ballyturk Enda Walsh Galway International Arts Festival
2014 A Particle of Dread Sam Shepard Field Day Theatre Company
2016 Cyprus Avenue David Ireland Royal Court Theatre, London
2020 The Visiting Hour Frank McGuinness The Gate Theatre, Dublin


  1. ^ "Stephen Rea".
  2. ^ " - Intro". Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  3. ^ "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  4. ^ a b Auld, Tim (25 March 2016). "Stephen Rea: 'I never wanted to be a polite actor'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Stephen Rea: 'I can't imagine teams of loyalists rolling up to watch it'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ "Queen's prepares for graduation week". Queen's University Belfast. June 2004. Archived from the original on 15 August 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Honour for Stephen Rea". Ulster University. 15 December 2004. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Ages of the Moon by Sam Shepard, 24 February – 4 April 2009". Abbey Theatre. 2009. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  9. ^ "Tales of Ballycumber". Abbey Theatre. 2009. Archived from the original on 6 July 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  10. ^ Wolf, Matt (17 September 1994). "Actors lose jobs as ban on IRA voices is lifted". Austin American-Statesman. p. A3.
  11. ^ "Rea reads The Dead on RTÉ Radio". RTÉ Ten. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 2 April 2012. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Scare comes from Out of the Dark in this exclusive clip". Bloody Disgusting. 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  13. ^ Barton, Steve (26 February 2015). "First clips emerge Out of the Dark". Dread Central. Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  14. ^ Boiselle, Matt (27 February 2015). "Out of the Dark (2015)". Dread Central. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Stephen Rea wins Best Supporting Actor Bafta TV award". BBC News. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2024.
  16. ^ Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara (13 June 2020). "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  17. ^ "UNICEF Ireland Ambassadors & High Profile Supporters". UNICEF. Archived from the original on 12 July 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  18. ^ Radden Keefe, Patrick (2018). Say Nothing. Penguin Random House. Pages 188, 252
  19. ^ Foy, Ken; Murphy, Cormac (24 January 2013). "Dolours Price, former IRA terrorist and ex-wife of actor Stephen Rea, dies of suspected overdose". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  20. ^ "Ex-IRA woman Dolours Price is found dead in Dublin". BBC News Online. 24 January 2013. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  21. ^ Radden Keefe 252
  22. ^ McDonald, Henry (28 January 2013). "Stephen Rea carries Dolours Price's coffin at funeral in Belfast: Former IRA hunger striker is buried after mass attended by Hollywood actor ex-husband". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  23. ^ Radden Keefe, Patrick (2018). Say Nothing. Penguin Random House.
  24. ^ "Actor Stephen Rea reveals he has found peace living in Donegal". 13 February 2020. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 13 February 2020.