Oscar Actors: Buckley, Jessie–Background, Career, Awards

Updated Feb 23, 2022
Jessie Buckley Career Summary:

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Training: RADA; grad in 2013

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Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: Beast, 2017.; aged 28

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Oscar Role: Lost Daughter, 2021; aged 32

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Screen Image: character actor

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Jessie Buckley (born 28 December 1989) is an Irish actress and singer. She began her career in 2008 as a contestant on the BBC TV talent show I’d Do Anything, in which she placed second. In the same year, she appeared in the West End revival of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. She then studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from which she graduated in 2013.

Her early onscreen appearances include BBC television series: Marya Bolkonskaya in the 2016 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Lorna Bow in Taboo (2017) and Marian Halcombe in The Woman in White (2018).

Buckley made her film debut playing the lead role of Moll Huntford in Beast (2017).

Her other roles include Rose-Lynn Harlan in Wild Rose (2018), Lyudmilla Ignatenko in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl (2019), the Young Woman in I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), Oraetta Mayflower in season four of Fargo (2020) and young Leda in The Lost Daughter (2021). Her performance in The Lost Daughter gained her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. For her performance in Wild Rose, she received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

In 2019, she was recognized by Forbes in its annual 30 Under 30 list.

In 2020, she was listed at No. 38 on The Irish Times’ list of Ireland’s greatest film actors.

Buckley was born on December 28, 1989 in Killarney, County Kerry, the daughter of Marina Cassidy and Tim Buckley. Her mother encouraged her to sing and coached her.

She has a younger brother and three younger sisters. She attended Ursuline Secondary School, an all-girls convent school in Thurles, County Tipperary, where her mother works as a vocal coach and where she performed in school productions. She played a number of male roles at school, including the male lead role of Tony in the musical West Side Story and Freddie Trumper in Chess.[5] She reached grade eight in piano, clarinet, and harp at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and was a member of the Tipperary Millennium Orchestra. She attended summer workshops with the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) to improve her singing and acting, and it was here that she was recognised as a talented actress and encouraged to apply for drama school in London.

Just before she auditioned for I’d Do Anything, she was turned down by two drama schools, including one the day before her first audition for the show. In 2008, she won the AIMS Best Actress award for her portrayal of Julie Jordan in the Killarney Musical Society production of Carousel.

Buckley competed in I’d Do Anything, a search for a new, unknown lead to play Nancy in a London West End stage revival of the British musical Oliver! She reached the final on 31 May 2008, finishing in second place behind Jodie Prenger.

Buckley performed at the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday in the Park show in Hyde Park, London on 14 September 2008, singing “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” as a solo and “Light at the End of the Tunnel” from Starlight Express with fellow I’d Do Anything finalists Keisha Amponsa-Banson, Niamh Perry, Rachel Tucker as well as Any Dream Will Do finalists Daniel Boys, Lewis Bradley, Ben James-Ellis and Keith Jack.[8] On 18 September she and Aoife Mulholland performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at an Andrew Lloyd Webber evening at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

On 26 August 2008 Buckley performed on Denny Street in Tralee, Co. Kerry for RTÉ Radio 1.[citation needed] After this, Jessie performed at a charity concert in Tipperary, where she announced that she would be starting rehearsals for A Little Night Music in London the following Monday.

Buckley was offered the opportunity to understudy Nancy, but turned it down in favor of another production: on 10 October 2008 it was announced that Buckley would be appearing in a revival of the Sondheim musical A Little Night Music, in the role of Anne Egerman, at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a fringe Studio Theatre, in London from 22 November 2008 to 8 March 2009.

She appeared alongside Maureen Lipman and Hannah Waddingham in the production, which was directed by Trevor Nunn. A Little Night Music transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End on 7 April 2009 (previews from 28 March – 6 April). A Little Night Music was Buckley’s West End debut. The show closed on 25 July 2009. Since then, she has appeared in a number of concerts nationally, including a Christmas concert alongside Maria Friedman, Cantabile – the London Quartet and Tim Rice, and in February 2010 appeared alongside Daniel Boys (and Night Music co-star Kelly Price in a series of Valentine musical concerts.

Buckley graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in January 2013.

In the 2013 summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe, she played Miranda in The Tempest, and singer Arabella Hunt and Kate in Samuel Adamson’s Gabriel.

Buckley played Emily Strong in Rosamunde Pilcher’s four-part TV adaptation of her book Shades of Love. This was aired in September 2013.

In September 2013, Buckley appeared opposite Jude Law in Michael Grandage’s West End production of Henry V at the Noël Coward Theatre. She played Perdita in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, which was streamed live to cinemas worldwide on 26 November 2015.

In 2016, Buckley appeared as Marya Bolkonskaya in the BBC’s new dramatization of War and Peace.

She received acclaim for her performance with Viv Groskop of The Guardian citing her performance as a highlight of episode two, writing that she plays this supposedly plain and pious character “beautifully.”

In 2017, Buckley appeared as Lorna Bow in the BBC television drama series Taboo, alongside Tom Hardy. She also starred as Honor Martin in the BBC series The Last Post and as Marian Halcombe in the BBC series The Woman in White. In 2018, she received acclaim for her lead performance as Moll Huntford in the psychological thriller Beast, a British-made film set on Jersey. She played the lead role in the 2019 country music drama Wild Rose, which earned Buckley the opportunity to perform music from the film at the Glastonbury Festival. The official soundtrack from the film reached number one on the UK Country Albums Chart.

In 2019, Buckley appeared as Lyudmilla Ignatenko in Chernobyl. She appeared in the 2019 biopic of Judy Garland titled Judy.[26] In 2020, she has appeared in Dolittle, directed by Stephen Gaghan, The Courier, directed by Dominic Cooke,[28] and Misbehaviour, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe,[29] and starred in the drama thriller I’m Thinking of Ending Things, directed by Charlie Kaufman for Netflix.[30] Also in 2020,

Buckley had a lead role as nurse Oraetta Mayflower in the fourth season of the FX black comedy crime drama Fargo.

In 2021, Buckley starred as the younger version of Leda Caruso in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s feature directorial debut The Lost Daughter, alongside Olivia Colman, who portrayed the character’s older counterpart. The film began a theatrical limited release in the US on 17 December 2021, prior to streaming on Netflix at the end of the month. It received acclaim from critics. For her performance, Buckley won a Gotham Independent Film Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance, and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

She received her first nomination for the Best Supporting Actress at the 94th Academy Awards.

In January 2021, it was announced that Buckley would star alongside Rory Kinnear in Alex Garland’s next film Men for A24.

The same year, it was announced that Buckley had joined Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Ben Whishaw in Sarah Polley’s feature adaptation of Miriam Toews’ bestselling novel Women Talking, with MGM’s Orion Pictures and Plan B Entertainment producing the film.[36] She is also committed to star in Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s feature directing debut Hot Milk, alongside Fiona Shaw and Vicky Krieps. The film will start shooting in September 2022, in Almería.

Buckley was in relationship with actor James Norton between 2015 and 2017. She lives in Norfolk as of 2021.

Acting credits


2011 Join My Band Stella Short film

2012 Crosswinds Jessie


Red Light Kelly
Beast Moll Huntford


Pulsar Cassa Short film
Wild Rose Rose-Lynn Harlan


A Battle in Waterloo Ellen Short film
Judy Rosalyn Wilder


Dolittle Queen Victoria
The Courier Sheila Wynne
Misbehavior Jo Robinson
I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Young Woman

2021 The Lost Daughter, Young Leda Caruso

2022 Men dagger Harper Post-production
Women Talking dagger