Alan Cumming:‘I forgive father who abused me’

Cumming says writing memoir was 'cathartic'. Picture: Getty
Cumming says writing memoir was 'cathartic'. Picture: Getty
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HOLLYWOOD star Alan Cumming says he has now forgiven his father for abusing him as a youngster – but admits he could not have written about his childhood trauma if he was still alive.

The Scottish actor insisted he would have protected him by not revealing the savage beatings he suffered as a youngster, despite the long-term impact the violence had on his life.

The 49-year-old, who is visiting Scotland this week from his home in New York to publicise his new book, says he now believes his father Alex – who died of cancer four years ago – was mentally ill.

He said he hoped other abuse suffers would be helped by his account of living in “abject terror” throughout his childhood in his native Perthshire.

Speaking at the launch of the book – Not My Father’s Son – at the Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh, he claimed its publication would have had a “disastrous” impact on his father, who tried to disown him by telling his brother that the actor was not his biological son.

Cumming reveals in his new book how he took a DNA test to disprove the claims, with which he was confronted after his father discovered the actor was taking part in the BBC TV show Who Do You Think You Are? which also revealed his grandfather Thomas had died playing Russian roulette while serving in the army in Malaysia.

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Cumming had been estranged from his father for 16 years when researchers on the BBC programme tried to contact him in the spring of 2010.

He told the audience he had sent the finished book to his mother, Mary, and his brother, Tom, to read the manuscript before sending it to his publisher. He said: “I would never have done it without their blessing. I would never have done it if my father were alive either – absolutely not.

“I think now that my dad was mentally ill. In writing this book, and having some distance from it, and trying to make sense of it, I realise that now. I knew that if I were to write this book when he was still alive, it would have been disastrous.

“I have forgiven him. If you’re happy in the now, then everything that’s led to where you are must have been part of that, good or bad. I think regret is a really overrated word.”

The Aberfeldy-born star, who found fame on Broadway in the 1990s in the stage musical Cabaret, said he had written the book mainly for himself and had found the whole process “cathartic.”

He added: “Abusive situations succeed when neither party really acknowledges them as being abusive.

“It’s imperative to share these things with other people. You’re making it shameful and deeming it something that is not acceptable.

“My story – our story – is never going to be acceptable. But it’s an amazing thing to feel I’ve done this and taken this shameful, painful thing and made it into this story, but also into something that can help other people.”

• ‘Not My Father’s Son’, published by Canongate, is on sale now.

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