Jessie Buckley

Jessie Buckley (born 28 December 1989) is an Irish actress. Her career began 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 Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. After some other theatre roles she suspended her professional career to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, from which she graduated in 2013.

In 2016 Buckley appeared on four BBC television series, adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Taboo, The Last Post, and The Woman in White. Buckley has since starred in the films Beast (2017) and Wild Rose (2018), for which she received critical acclaim and a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for the latter. In 2019, Buckley starred in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, and she was recognized by Forbes in its annual 30 Under 30 list.


Buckley was born in Killarney, County Kerry. Her mother, Marina Cassidy, encouraged her to sing and coached her. She has a brother and three sisters, all younger. 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.

I'd Do Anything

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

After I'd Do Anything

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.

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 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 appeared in Dolittle, directed by Stephen Gaghan, and will have roles in Ironbark directed by Dominic Cooke, Misbehaviour, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, and I'm Thinking of Ending Things directed by Charlie Kaufman for Netflix.