Joan Mary Cusack is an American actress best known for her roles in films such as ‘Working Girl’ and ‘In & Out’ for which she received Oscar nominations. She is also known for playing the voice role of Jessie in the Toy Story franchise. Cusack was born in New York and raised in Illinois. She was encouraged by her parents from an early age to explore her creativity. As a young woman, she learned acting at the Story Theater and The Ark. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in English. She began her acting career while still at the university and gained mainstream popularity after joining the famous show ‘Saturday Night Live’. Cusack won her first Oscar nomination for her role in the film ‘Working Girl’. The film, which was directed by Mike Nichols, was also a critical and commercial success. She was later nominated for another Oscar for her role in the film ‘In & Out’. She is also known for her voice work in the animated films ‘Toy Story 2’ and ‘Toy Story 3’. A much decorated artiste, she is the winner of numerous prestigious awards including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Childhood & Early life
Joan Cusack was born on 11th October 1962 in New York City. Her father Dick Cusack was an actor and filmmaker while her mother Nancy Cusack used to teach mathematics and was also a political activist. Her two siblings Ann and John also became actors.
She began her acting career playing minor roles in films while she was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in English in 1984.
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Joan Cusack first earned attention in 1987 for her role in the film ‘Broadcast News’. In 1988, she won her first award, the ‘Boston Society of Film Critics Award’ in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category, for her role in the comedy film ‘Stars and Bars’. She won the same award again for her role in the film ‘Married to the Mob’.
She reached new heights of popularity after her role of Cynthia in the 1988 romantic comedy drama film ‘Working Girl’ by Mike Nichols. The film was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for the Oscar in the ‘Best Film’ category. Cusack also earned an Oscar nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actress’.
In the following years, she was seen in movies, such as ‘Say Anything’ (1989), ‘Men Don’t Leave’ (1990), ‘My Blue Heaven’ (1990), ‘Toys’ (1992), and ‘Addams Family Values’ (1993).
In 1995, she was nominated for the American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance in the romantic comedy film ‘Nine Months’. The film did well commercially but was a critical failure. She was next seen in the movies ‘Two Much’ (1995) and ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ (1997).
Cusack earned her second Oscar nomination in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category for her role in the romantic comedy film ‘In & Out’ (1997). Directed by Frank Oz, the film was a commercial and critical success.
She played a role in the 1999 mystery thriller film ‘Arlington Road’. The same year, she appeared in the romantic comedy film ‘Runaway Bride’, which won her the American Comedy Award as well as the Blockbuster Entertainment Award. Also in the same year, she played a voice role in the animated comedy film ‘Toy Story 2’; she won the Annie Award for her performance.
Her works during the early 2000s include ‘High Fidelity’ (2000), ‘School of Rock’ (2003), and ‘The Last Shot’ (2004). She voiced a main character in the 2005 animated sci-fi comedy film ‘Chicken Little’. Directed by Mark Dindal, the film was a commercial success though the reviews were mostly mixed.
In the ensuing years, she acted in the movies ‘Friends with Money’ (2006), ‘Martian Child’ (2007), and ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’. In 2010, she was seen in the animated adventure film ‘Toy Story 3’. The film was a huge success commercially, earning more than $1 billion. It won several awards as well.
From 2011 to 2015, she played a role in the TV series ‘Shameless’ for which she was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards. She eventually won the award in 2015.
The movies she worked in during the 2010s include ‘Arthur Christmas’ (2011), ‘Welcome to Me’ (2014), ‘Freaks of Nature’ (2015), and ‘Snatched’ (2017).
She reprised her voice role of Jessie in the TV specials ‘Toy Story of Terror’ (2013) and ‘Toy Story that Time Forgot’ (2014). Her most recent work is the 2017 comedy film ‘Unicorn Store’, which was directed by Brie Larson. The film was met with mixed reviews.
One of Joan Cusack’s successful early works is her role in the romantic comedy film ‘Working Girl’. Directed by Mike Nichols, the film also starred actors Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, and Alec Baldwin. Made on a budget of less than $30 million, the film became a commercial success, earning $102 million. The film also earned positive response from critics.
Another successful work by Joan Cusack is her voice role in the 2010 animated comedy drama film ‘Toy Story 3’. It was the third installment of the Toy Story movie franchise. The film, directed by Lee Unkrich, turned out to be a huge success financially, earning more than $1 billion on a $200 million budget.
At the Oscars, ‘Toy Story 3’ became the first animated sequel in history to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’ and the second one to be nominated for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature film as well as the Golden Globe Award and BAFTA Award, in the same category. It was also much praised by critics.
She is also known for her role in the American comedy drama TV series ‘Shameless’. It was a remake of the British series of the same name. The series, which has been airing since 2011, has been much praised by critics. It has also received high ratings. Cusack was nominated for many Emmy Awards for her role, winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2015.
Joan Cusack has been married to attorney Richard Burke since 1993. He is the CEO of Envoy Global. The couple has two sons, Dylan John, born in 1997, and Miles, born in 2000.