Name: Jessie Buckley
Born: 28 December 1989
Alma mater: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active: 2008-present
Buckley was born in Killarney, County Kerry, the eldest of five children. Her mother, Marina Cassidy, encouraged her to sing and coached her. She has a brother and three sisters. Buckley went to 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 Jets gang founder Tony in the musical West Side Story and Freddie Trumper in Chess.
She has achieved Grade eight in piano, clarinet and harp with the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She is also a member of the Tipperary Millennium Orchestra. Buckley also attended The Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) workshops during the summer, to help improve her singing and acting; it was where she was then recognised as a talented actress and was 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, Buckley 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!. Buckley reached the final on 31 May 2008, finishing in second place behind Jodie Prenger.
Performances on I’d Do Anything
|Week one||“River Deep – Mountain High”|
|Week two||“Killing Me Softly”|
|Week three||“One Night Only” from the musical Dreamgirls|
|Week four||“Why Do Fools Fall in Love”|
|Week six||“The Man that Got Away” from A Star Is Born|
|Week eight||“How Do I Live”|
|Week nine||“What I Did for Love” from the musical A Chorus Line|
|Week ten (Final)||“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
“The Man That Got Away”
“As Long as He Needs Me”
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. 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 where the first ever Millionaire raffle was broadcast live on RTÉ Radio 1. 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 favour of another production: on 10 October 2008 it was announced that Buckley would be appearing in a revival of the Stephen 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.
Buckley played the part of 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 dramatisation of War and Peace Buckley 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 appears as Lorna Bow in the BBC television drama series Taboo, alongside Tom Hardy. She also stars as Honor Martin in the BBC series The Last Post and as Marian Halcombe in the BBC series The Woman in White.
In 2018, Buckley 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 achieved worldwide fame for her portrayal of Lyudmilla Ignatenko in Chernobyl. The miniseries became the highest rated TV show in IMDB’s history.
She also appeared in the 2019 biopic of Judy Garland titled Judy. In 2020, she will appear in Dolittle directed by Stephen Gaghan, Ironbark directed by Dominic Cooke, Misbehaviour, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things directed by Charlie Kaufman for Netflix.
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