10 Things You Never Knew About Jessie Buckley

Jessie Buckley can't seem to put a foot wrong. Following her breakout performance in Wild Rose, in which she played a headstrong wannabe country singer, the Irish actress has shone opposite Renee Zellweger in Judy, appeared in the acclaimed TV series Chernobyl and Fargo, and starred in the quirky Charlie Kaufman movie I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Next up: a movie role alongside Olivia Colman in dark psychological dramaThe Lost Daughter, and a stage turn opposite Eddie Redmayne in a West End revival of Cabaret. She and Redmayne will be appearing on this week’s episode of The Graham Norton Show – it airs Friday at 11pm EST on BBC America – so let’s find out more about her. Here are 10 things you might not know about this incredibly talented actress and singer.
1. Her break came in 2008 on a BBC talent show.
At age 18, Buckley auditioned for I'd Do Anything, a primetime Saturday night series on which 12 unknown actresses competed to play Nancy in a West End revival of Oliver! Buckley finished in second place, impressing judges John Barrowman and Andrew Lloyd Webber plus host Graham Norton along the way.
Yes, Buckley and Norton go waaaaay back!
2. She was then offered the role of Nancy's understudy.
However, Buckley turned down this offer so she could star in an Off West End production of A Little Night Music. Her gamble paid off when A Little Night Music transferred to a major West End theater.
3. After that, Buckley put in a stint as a nightclub singer.
She performed at Annabel's, a super-fancy private members' club in London's Mayfair. "It could feel intimate and creative even though nobody was listening. And once or twice you’d see somebody who was suddenly paying attention," Buckley told The Irish Times. "Y’know, these people, they’re all in bloody Annabel’s, they’re not gonna be interested in some Irish tinkerer singing away in the corner; they’re interested in money or whatever else. But sometimes something would shift in one person. And that would be enough.”
4. She suffered "really badly" from depression both before and after competing on I’d Do Anything.
“That age, it’s a funny time in life, becoming a woman,” Buckley told the Radio Times. “I suppose my way of channeling that was singing, and that was a savior in many ways. I felt like I needed it. I was sad. I was really sad. The adrenaline rush of being in that show got me through and for a little while I could forget all [the sadness], but after the show finished, I really hit that low point again. I was in London, in a big city by myself, and still not well because I’d just put a plaster over it."
5. She comes from a creative background.
Buckley’s mother is a former opera singer who became a vocal coach, while her father is a poet who also ran a guesthouse. "We [my siblings and I] chipped in at the guesthouse, which was fun, serving mushrooms and scrambled eggs to American tourists in the morning," Buckley told The Irish Times. "We all thought we were very grown up. As a family we lived in the guesthouse for a bit. We got to know the staff. At the end of the night we would do some Irish dancing. I was awful at it.”
Incidentally, you can catch a glimpse of Buckley’s Irish dancing skills on The Graham Norton Show this Friday.
6. She attended an all-girls convent school in County Tipperary, where she grew up, an experience she has described as "stressful."
"I grew up in that Celtic Tiger time [of economic growth in Ireland]. You had to be a doctor, lawyer, or whatever. Your happiness was based on materialism... I felt choked by it," Buckley told The Guardian. "At that age, you’re coming into your womanhood, you’re trying to have a sense of what you want from life. And, my God, I wanted to do music, to be in London, to be in the theater... I realized that I had my own ideas about what I wanted. It was very hard at that point in my life – I suppose I was afraid of myself, and I was afraid of owning those feelings."
7. In 2019, following her breakout role as a wannabe country singer in Wild Rose, she performed at the U.K.’s most iconic music festival: Glastonbury.
Buckley’s set, which earned a four-star review from British music title NME, featured songs she performed in Wild Rose including ‘Born to Run,’ ‘Angel from Montgomery,’ and the brilliant ‘Glasgow (No Place Like Home)’.

8. She auditioned for a role in the ill-fated movie version of Cats.
"I don’t know how fluidly feline I would have been," Buckley told The New Yorker. "I'd be a very stagnant, boxlike, kind of anxious cat."
9. She and The Crown's Josh O'Connor starred in a lockdown streaming production of Romeo & Juliet.
Tamsin Greig, Adrian Lester, and Lucian Msamati were among their co-stars in the socially distanced production, which was filmed at London's National Theatre last year.
10. And finally, she probably won't be playing a superhero any time soon.
“I’ve no interest in doing a Marvel film, for example," Buckley told the Radio Times in 2018. "I don’t think I’d ever get asked, anyway. No one’s going to ask me to get into a leather catsuit any time soon, are they? I’ll be a wonderful woman, but I won’t be Wonder Woman!”
Do you have a favorite Jessie Buckley performance?