The next year, he applied and was accepted to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. It was here that he met his future professional partner Forbes Masson, and his future wife, Hilary Lyons (they later divorced after 8 years of marriage). He made his feature film debut in “Passing Glory” while in his final year at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Cumming and Masson formed the comedy duo “Victor Barry” (which produced numerous tours, TV appearances, and recordings) and later wrote and starred in the cult BBC sitcom “The High Life”.
After three years of television and theatre work in Scotland, Cumming made his West End debut in 1989 at the Royal Court in “The Conquest of the South Pole” and was nominated Most Promising Newcomer in that year’s Olivier Awards. He was Olivier Nominated for his performance in “La Bete” at the Lyric Hammersmith and went on to win an Olivier Award for the Royal National Theatre production of “Accidental Death of an Anarchist”. He garnered an Olivier Award nomination for his work in the London production of “Cabaret” and also received wide critical acclaim for his performance of “Hamlet” at the Donmar Warehouse.
In 1998, Cumming accompanied the transfer of “Cabaret” to Broadway, being the only holdover besides director Sam Mendes. “Cabaret” was a smash hit, and he won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for his performance as the Emcee. Amongst all this theatre work, Cumming was able to make a name for himself as a movie actor as well.
He had small roles in films such as “GoldenEye”, “Emma”, and the film that introduced him to many of his fans, “Circle of Friends”. Other films include “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”, “Buddy”, and his much talked about cameo as the flirtatious Hotel Desk Clerk opposite Tom Cruise in “Eyes Wide Shut”.
Cumming currently has homes in New York and London, jetting in-between the two and Los Angeles for work. He continues to do film work while preparing for his return to Broadway in 2001 starring in “Design for Living”. Most recently he will be starring in the X Men.