Alan Cumming was 'devastated' when his first marriage failed

·5 min read
Scottish actor Alan Cumming attends
Alan Cumming attends "The Daily Front Row Fashion Media Awards" during New York Fashion week 2021. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

Yahoo Entertainment's editors are committed to independently selecting wonderful products at great prices for you. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Alan Cumming says he was 'devastated' when his first marriage ended because he wanted to prove to his parents that a relationship could last.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast, the X-Men and The Good Wife actor who married actor Hilary Lyon in 1985, said: "I was so young when I got married. I left home to get away from my father, I got into a marriage to feel secure and to feel... I was in love and everything as well. But I felt I was seeking the familiar.

"I realise, now I've done a lot of therapy, it's partly I want to prove my parents wrong, you could have a relationship that lasted," added the actor, who now lives in New York with this illustrator husband Grant Shaffer. "When they broke up, It was devastating to me."

WATCH: Alan Cumming describes the toxic relationships he couldn't include in his memoir

"I wanted them to break up," he continues. "But when they did break up, I was devastated, partly because it made me confront loads of things: the relationship, my father's violence, a whole load of stuff that was sort of in denial and people weren't talking about and all of a sudden when my mum actually said that she was leaving him made it all come out. 

"I wanted my marriage to be a success to prove them wrong, or to prove that you could do it. Which is a really bad reason! It wasn't the main reason. It was certainly one of the things and what I felt when I failed in my marriage. 

Alan Cumming at the Reception in the Gresham Hotel for the premier of the New James Bond movie Golden Eye, 24/11/1995 (Part of the Independent Newspapers Ireland/NLI Collection). (Photo by Independent News And Media/Getty Images)
Alan Cumming with Saffron Burrows at the GoldenEye premiere in 1995 (Independent News And Media/Getty Images)

"I was really, really devastated because it was the most adult grown up thing that I had done independently. And I wanted to make it a success. I needed it to be sure. And for it to work."

Listen to the full episode to hear Alan tell Kate Thornton why he was devastated when his first marriage ended and the story of his disastrous first flight to work in America

He also talked about writing his latest memoir and how it doesn't include everything from his life, including some of the toxic relationships he has been in. He said that some parts had to be left out for legal reasons but that in not being able to include he felt liberated.

He explains: "There's parts of my life that aren't there, some things I wasn't allowed to [write]. In a way that was liberating as well.

Read more: Alan Cumming says ‘Hollywood saved me’ from feeling suicidal

"I thought I wanted to write very much about these things. And when I realised I couldn't, I was angry. Because I thought: 'On top of everything else...' But actually, it was just a very liberating thing to think: 'Yeah, well, it doesn't mean that much. The only thing it means is that I'm not in it.'

He talked about the effect of growing up with a violent father, how it impacted on his future relationships and the way he and his husband complement each other.

NEW YORK - JULY 20:
Alan Cumming in The Good Wife (Paul Sarkis/CBS via Getty Images)

"I repeated patterns like we all do, and I tried to fix people. I always used to think that angry people were somehow attracted to me, because of my dad. 

"I thought somehow it must be some pheromone I give off that that attracts angry people. And that's why my dad hit me. And that's why I was involved with certain people. 

"And then I realised that I was attracted to angry people because they were familiar to me, and I thought I needed to fix them. I wanted to finally fix someone."

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Alan Cumming and mother Mary Darling attend the TommyNow show during London Fashion Week February 2020 at the Tate Modern on February 16, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images for BFC)
Alan Cumming and mother Mary Darling attend the TommyNow show during London Fashion Week February 2020. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images for BFC)

He talked to Thornton about his marriage to Shaffer, and how the two of them work together to help with their different anxieties.

He said: "In this book, I talk a lot about having anxiety. And [Grant's] a very anxious person compared to me. Yeah, he gets anxious about things. My anxiety comes when I'm completely overwhelmed. And I'm in a situation where I don't understand what's happening to me. And it's much more in the past as well. 

"It's something I got over whereas he's just got general, you know, locks all the doors – just one of those people. And I'm one of the people who walks down the dark alleys. 

"We're a good combo, I pull him back from the brink. And he pulls me from jumping off. It's quite funny. I don't want to lock the doors, and he wants to put the alarm on. We have a compromise, [we] don't put the alarm on but he gets to lock the doors.

"It's such a great thing that he doesn't like all the things I do. But he knows he doesn't want to change me."

But it: Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming | £13.04 (Was £15.19) from Amazon

WATCH: Alan Cumming on Scotland, sex and fearing Madonna

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting