Early life and career
Quinn was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Irish parents. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic and raised in Chicago and Rockford, Illinois, as well as in Dublin and Birr, County Offaly, in Ireland. His mother, Teresa, was a homemaker, and also worked as a bookkeeper and in the travel business, and his father, Michael Quinn, was a professor of literature. He has three brothers and a sister. His older brother, Declan Quinn, is a noted cinematographer. Though a roofer by trade, Quinn got his start in the Chicago theater at age 19. He trained at the Piven Theatre Workshop.
His first significant film role was in Reckless, followed by a breakthrough role in Desperately Seeking Susan as the character "Dez" (the love interest of the character played by Rosanna Arquette). He made a short impressive contribution as Robert De Niro's brother in The Mission. He played escaped convict Richard "Stick" Montgomery in the action comedy Stakeout opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez. Quinn next starred in the controversial television film An Early Frost, about a young gay lawyer dying of AIDS (it was broadcast on NBC on November 11, 1985 and co-starred Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara and Sylvia Sidney). He received his first Emmy Award nomination for the role which allowed him to gain recognition in Hollywood.
In 1988 Quinn lost the role of Jesus Christ when Paramount Pictures dropped the controversial Martin Scorsese movie The Last Temptation of Christ. When Universal Pictures picked up the film, the role went to Willem Dafoe. In the meantime, Quinn starred as protagonist in the film Crusoe, finished in 1989.
During the 1990s Quinn's career grew immensely. He found work alongside such Hollywood stars as Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon, Robert Duvall in The Handmaid's Tale and John Gielgud in Haunted. He continually starred in films that allowed him to return to his Irish roots, such as Michael Collins, Song for a Raggy Boy, This Is My Father, and Evelyn. He played a small cameo as the captain of a doomed Arctic vessel in the Francis Ford Coppola-produced adaptation of Frankenstein.
In 2000, Quinn portrayed Paul McCartney in the VH1 television drama, Two of Us. Quinn was able to gain his first regular television role as the lead in the short lived and controversial NBC drama The Book of Daniel, in 2006. The show was canceled after the first three weeks of its run, and its last five episodes never aired. In 2007, Quinn received his second Emmy nomination for the television movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
- Aidan Quinn directed Elementary episode "It Serves You Right to Suffer".
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