Stephen Rea (31 October 1946) is a Northern Irish actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his lead performance as Fergus in the 1992 film The Crying Game.
Rea was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of a bus driver. One of four children in a working class Presbyterian family, he attended Belfast High School and the Queen's University of Belfast, taking a degree in English.
Rea trained at the Abbey Theatre School in Dublin. In the late 1970s, he acted in the Focus Company in Dublin with Gabriel Byrne and Colm Meaney. During the broadcasting ban on Sinn Féin imposed by Margaret Thatcher's government, in order to cut the 'oxygen of publicity', it was interpreted that Sinn Féin members could not be heard making statements expressing the views of Sinn Féin, so Rea was one of many actors contacted to provide an actor's voice to get around that problem. After appearing on the stage and in television and film for many years in Ireland and Britain, Rea came to international attention when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film The Crying Game. He is a frequent collaborator with Irish film maker Neil Jordan. Rea has long been associated with some of the most important writers in Ireland. His association with playwright Stewart Parker (1941-1988) for example, began when they were students together at the Queen's University of Belfast.