One of Hollywood's funniest and most underappreciated actresses, Joan Cusack was for years relegated to playing the buddy sidekicks of her more glamorous co-stars and known primarily as John Cusack's older sister. Thanks to a couple of Oscar nominations and strong roles in a number of movies, Cusack finally began getting her due in the late 1990s, earning both recognition and respect for her singular talent.
Born in New York City on October 11, 1962, Cusack grew up in the Chicago suburb of Evanston. The daughter of actor and filmmaker Richard Cusack, she and her siblings were encouraged to perform from an early age. As a result, Cusack grew up acting on the stage and training with the Piven Theatre Workshop. She broke into film while still in her teens, getting her start - -and often acting alongside her brother -- in such teen comedies as My Bodyguard (1980) and Sixteen Candles (1984). In 1985 she was offered a part on the Saturday Night Live roster, but felt constrained by the lack of quality material offered to women, and left the show after one season. Gradually getting better supporting work in such films as Broadcast News (1987) and Married to the Mob (1988), Cusack had her screen breakthrough in Working Girl (1988), earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as Melanie Griffith's street-smart best friend. More strong notices followed in 1989 for Cusack's work in the drama Men Don't Leave, in which she played a nurse who helps get Jessica Lange's life back on track after her husband's death.
Though Cusack would move to Chicago for much of the 90's to focus on her family, she would appear in a handful of memorable titles, like My Blue Heaven (1990), Addams Family Values, Corrina, Corrina, Nine Months, and In & Out. Cusack would amp it up in the coming years, however, with appearances in a slew of popular films like Grosse Point Blank, Runaway Bride, High Fidelity, and Cradle will Rock. As the 2000's rolled onward, Cusack would continue to maintain her status as a go-to character actor, appearing in fims like Friends with Money, My Sister's Keeper and Mars Needs Moms, and on the critically acclaimed series Shameless.