Niall Tóibín, famed Irish actor who starred alongside actors like Tom Cruise and Pierce Brosnan, died Wednesday after a long battle with an undisclosed illness. He was 89.
Born in Cork to native Irish speakers, Tóibín began his career in acting in the 1950s with the Radio Éireann Players and went on to appear in several Irish television dramas. In film, he played Tom Cruise’s father in “Far and Away” and as an islander alongside Pierce Brosnan in “The Nephew.” He was also known for his comic work, appearing in a production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” at the National Theatre in London.
In 2005, his handprints were added to the entrance of Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, and in 2011, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film & Television Academy.
In a statement honoring Tóibín, Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins commended the actor’s commitment to choosing Irish language roles as well as English ones.
“The depth of interpretation that he brought to a wide variety of characters showed a very deep intellectual understanding and, above all, sensitivity to the nuance of Irish life,” he said. “While a huge audience will have adored his comic genius, his work included all the genres stage, television, film and radio. To the latter he brought a distinctive voice which made him a much-loved interpreter of Irish life and its challenges.”
A documentary on Tóibín’s life and career is set to air on RTE in Ireland next month, with interviews from various actors including Brosnan and Jim Sheridan.