Quinn was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 8, 1959. He was raised, together with his four siblings, in both the United States and in his parents' native home of Ireland. His parents immigrated to the US in the 1950's. His father was a professor of English Literature at Rock Valley College in the Chicago area.
Quinn attended high school for some time in Dublin. When he was about 19, he tried to become involved with local theatre groups in Dublin, but was not able to accomplish what he was after, so he returned to Chicago. While in Chicago, Quinn did work as a roofer and joined local acting companies.
Aidan Quinn went on to New York for an off-Broadway production of Sam Sheppard's, Fool for Love. His big break in film would come in the 1984 film, Reckless. But it was not until his appearance the following year in Desperately Seeking Susan that he began to gain some attention.
Quinn would move throughout the 1980's and 1990's taking roles of sensitive, reflective, and intelligent characters. His big blue eyes helped viewers see into the "soul" of his characters.
In 1998, Quinn worked along side his two brothers, Paul and Declan , on the film This Is My Father. Quinn was the executive producer and the star of the film. The script was written and directed by Paul, and the cinematography was compliments of Declan.
Quinn has a grown daughter, Ava (b. 1989), who is autistic, and a younger daughter, Mia (b. 1998) with wife, Elizabeth Bracco. The couple have been married since September of 1987.