Stephen Rea

For the English-born American movie critic, see Steven Rea.
Stephen Rea
Born (1946-10-31) 31 October 1946
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Occupation Actor
Years active 1970–present
Spouse(s) Dolours Price (1983–2000)

Stephen Rea (/ˈr/ ray; born 31 October 1946) is an Irish[1] film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in high-profile films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. Rea was nominated for an Academy Award for his lead performance as Fergus in the 1992 film The Crying Game. He has during later years had important roles in the Hugo Blick TV series The Shadow Line and The Honourable Woman, for which he won a BAFTA Award.

Early life

Rea was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Protestant parents; his father was a bus driver and his mother a housewife.[2] He attended Belfast High School and the Queen's University Belfast, taking a degree in English.

Rea trained at the Abbey Theatre School in Dublin. 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 Great Britain, 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 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 Belfast[3] and the Ulster University[4] 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.[5] Rea returned to the Abbey in 2009 to appear in the world première of Sebastian Barry's Tales of Ballycumber.[6]

Rea was hired to speak the words of Gerry Adams when Sinn Féin was under a 1988–94 broadcasting ban.[7]

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.[8] He also narrated for the BBC Radio 4 production of Ulysses for Bloomsday, 16 June 2012.

Rea starred in Enda Walsh's 2014 play Ballyturk and portrayed Jordan in Out of the Dark,[9] in which he co-stars Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman and Alejandro Furth.[10][11]

Personal life

Rea was married for 17 years to Dolours Price, a former Provisional Irish Republican Army bomber and hunger striker who later became a critic of Sinn Féin. (Another news source suggests a marriage of 20 years, from 1983 to 2003.)[12] They had been divorced when she died on 23 January 2013.[13] They had two sons.[14]

Rea is an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland.[15]


Year Title Role Notes
1970 Cry of the Banshee Villager
1975 I Didn't Know You Cared Carter Brandon TV, Series 1 & 2
1977 Professional Foul Pavel Hollar BBC play (TV)
1978 The Professionals Pellin Episode: "In the public interest"
1978 On a Paving Stone Mounted
1980 Caleb Williams Tyrell German TV series
1982 Angel Danny
1983 Loose Connections Harry
1984 The Company of Wolves Young Groom
Minder Roddy Series 4, episode 10 "Windows"
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
The Break 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
I Could Ready the Sky PJ Doran
In Dreams Doctor Silverman
2000 The King's Wake King Connor Mac Neasa (voice)
2001 The Musketeer Cardinal Richelieu
Armadillo Hogg TV film
Snow in August Rabbi Judah Hirsch
On the Edge Dr. Figure
2002 FeardotCom Alistair Pratt, 'The Doctor'
Copenhagen Niels Bohr BBC-PBS (TV)
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 Nominated — Irish Film and Television Awards - Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Film
Tara Road Colm
River Queen Francis
V for Vendetta Chief Inspector Finch
2006 Sisters Dr. Philip Lacan
Sixty Six Dr. Barrie
2007 Celebration Waiter TV film
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
2009 Nothing Personal Martin
Father & Son (TV)
Ondine Village priest
2010 The Heavy Anawalt
Single-Handed Sean Doyle TV series
2011 Roadkill policeman
Blackthorn Mackinley
The Shadow Line "Controller" James Gatehouse TV series
Nominated - British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor
2012 Underworld: Awakening Dr Jacob Lane
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us Doc
2013 Utopia Conran Letts TV series
Asylum McGahey
2014 The Honourable Woman Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle TV series
British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film
Styria Dr. Hill Released on DVD as Angels of Darkness[16]
2015-16 Dickensian Inspector Bucket BBC series
2016 War & Peace Prince Vassily Kuragin BBC series


  1. "Q&A: Stephen Rea". New York Post. 20 July 2008.
  2. "Stephen Rea: 'I never wanted to be a polite actor'". The Telegraph. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  3. "Queen's prepares for graduation week". Queen's University Belfast. June 2004. Archived from the original on 15 August 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  4. "Honour for Stephen Rea". Ulster University. 15 December 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  5. "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.
  6. "Tales of Ballycumber". Abbey Theatre. 2009. Archived from the original on 6 July 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  7. Wolf, Matt (17 September 1994). "Actors lose jobs as ban on IRA voices is lifted". Austin American-Statesman. p. A3.
  8. "Rea reads The Dead on RTÉ Radio". RTÉ Ten. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  9. "Scare comes from Out of the Dark in this exclusive clip". Bloody Disgusting. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  10. Barton, Steve (26 February 2015). "First clips emerge Out of the Dark". Dread Central.
  11. Boiselle, Matt (27 February 2015). "Out of the Dark (2015)". Dread Central.
  12. 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. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  13. 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. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  14. "Ex-IRA woman Dolours Price is found dead in Dublin". BBC News Online. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  15. "UNICEF Ireland Ambassadors & High Profile Supporters". UNICEF. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  16. Styria at the Internet Movie Database
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