Height: 5’7” (1.70 m)
Birthday: May 28, 1985 (age 31)
Carey Mulligan was born in Westminster, London, to a middle-class family, the daughter of Nano (née Booth) and Stephen Mulligan. Her father is of Irish descent and was originally from Liverpool. Her mother is from Llandeilo, Wales. She has an older brother, Owain, who was formerly a captain in the British Army who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her mother is a university lecturer and her father is a hotel manager. Her parents met while they were both working in a hotel in their twenties. When she was three years old, her family moved to Germany when her father was hired to manage a hotel there. While living in Germany, Carey and her brother attended the International School of Düsseldorf. When she was eight, she and her family moved back to England. As a teenager, she was educated at Woldingham School in Surrey.
Her interest in acting sparked from watching her brother perform in a school production of ‘The King and I’ when she was six. During rehearsals, she pleaded with his teachers to let her be in the play. They let her join the chorus. While enrolled in Woldingham School as teen, she was heavily involved in theatre. She was the student head of the drama department there, performing in plays and musicals, conducting workshops with younger students, and helping put on productions. When she was 16, she attended a production of ‘Henry V‘ starring Kenneth Branagh. His performance emboldened her and reinforced her belief that she wanted to pursue a career in acting. She wrote a letter to Branagh asking him for advice. “I explained that my parents didn’t want me to act, but that I felt it was my vocation in life,” she said. Branagh’s sister replied: “Kenneth says that if you feel such a strong need to be an actress, you must be an actress.”
Carey Mulligan’s parents disapproved of her acting ambitions and wished for her to attend a university like her brother. At age 17, she applied to three London drama schools, instead of the universities that she was expected to submit an application to, but did not receive a subsequent offer. During her final year at Woldingham School, actor/screenwriter Julian Fellowes delivered a lecture at the school on the production of the film Gosford Park. Carey briefly talked to him after the lecture and asked him for advice on an acting career. However, Fellowes dissuaded her from the profession and suggested that she “marry a lawyer” instead. Undeterred, she later sent Fellowes a letter in which she stated that she was serious about acting and that the vocation was her purpose in life. Several weeks later, Fellowes’s wife Emma invited her to a dinner for young, aspiring actors that she and her husband were hosting to offer advice. The event facilitated an introduction between Carey Mulligan and a casting assistant that led to an audition for a role in Pride and Prejudice. She auditioned on three occasions and was eventually given the role of Kitty Bennet. During her late teens and early twenties, she worked as a pub barmaid and an errand-runner for Ealing Studios in between acting jobs.
In 2004, at the age of 19, Carey Mulligan began her acting career on stage in the play ‘Forty Winks’ at the Royal Court Theatre in London. She made her film debut the following year in Pride & Prejudice, the 2005 film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, portraying Kitty Bennet. Later that year, she auditioned for and won the role of orphan Ada Clare in the BAFTA award-winning BBC adaption of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, her television debut. Among her 2007 projects were My Boy Jack, starring Daniel Radcliffe, that features her in a supporting role, and Northanger Abbey. She identified with her role Elsie, the daughter of writer Rudyard Kipling, who vociferously opposes her brother going to war. She earned a Constellation Award for playing the main character Sally Sparrow in the Doctor Who episode “Blink”. She rounded out 2007 by appearing in an acclaimed revival of The Seagull, in which she played Nina to Kristin Scott Thomas’s Arkadina and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Trigorin. The Daily Telegraph said her performance was “quite extraordinarily radiating'” and The Observer called her “almost unbearably affecting.” While in the middle of the production, she had to have an appendectomy, preventing her from being able to perform for a week. For her debut Broadway performance in the 2008 American transfer of The Seagull, she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, but lost to Angela Lansbury.
Her big breakthrough came when, at 22, she was cast in her first leading role as Jenny in the 2009 independent film An Education, directed by Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig and written by Nick Hornby. Over a hundred actresses auditioned for the part, but Carey Mulligan’s audition impressed Scherfig the most. The film and her performance received rave reviews, and she was nominated for an Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, and won a BAFTA Award. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly and Todd McCarthy of Variety both compared her performance to that of Audrey Hepburn. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers described her as having given a “sensational, starmaking performance,” while Claudia Puig of USA Today felt that Carey had one of the year’s best performances, and Toby Young of The Times felt she anchored the film. Writing in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw concluded that she gave a “wonderful performance.” Carey was a recipient of the Shooting Stars Award from the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival and received a BAFTA Rising Star Award nomination, which is voted on by the British public.
Carey Mulligan next starred in independent film The Greatest (2009) as the pregnant girlfriend of a boy who dies. Her involvement with the project helped it “tremendously”, according to the director. After being selected to join The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, she won a British Independent Award for Never Let Me Go, an adaption of the 2005 Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, in which she starred and narrated. It was released in September 2010, competing against her other project, the Oliver Stone-directed film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Screened out of competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, it was her first major studio project. Later that year she also provided vocals for the song “Write About Love” by Belle & Sebastian.
She returned to the stage in the Atlantic Theater Company’s off-Broadway play adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass, Darkly, from 13 May – 3 July 2011. She played the central character, a mentally unstable woman, and received glowing praise from reviewers. Ben Brantley, theater critic for The New York Times, wrote that Mulligan’s performance was “acting of the highest order”; he also described her as “extraordinary” and “one of the finest actresses of her generation.”
Carey co-starred in the critically acclaimed 2011 neo-noir thriller Drive, directed by Danish filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn. She was nominated for her second BAFTA award—Best Supporting Actress—for the film. ‘Drive’ garnered a total of 4 BAFTA award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. She began filming Steve McQueen’s sex-addiction drama Shame alongside Michael Fassbender in New York in January 2011. ‘Drive’ debuted at 2011 Cannes Film Festival and Shame debuted at 2011 Venice Film Festival, both to good reviews. Of her performance in Shame, Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers wrote, “Mulligan is in every way sensational.”
She starred as Daisy Buchanan, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, in The Great Gatsby, which was released in May 2013. Carey Mulligan auditioned for the role of Daisy in late 2010. While attending a Vogue fashion dinner in New York City in November, Baz Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, told her she had the part. In May 2012, she was a co-chair, alongside Anna Wintour, for the Gatsby-themed 2012 Met Ball Gala.
She starred in the June 2014 revival of the play Skylight with Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard, directed by Stephen Daldry, at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End. It won the 2014 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Revival of the Year and was nominated for the 2014 Olivier Award for Best Revival. She returned to Broadway when Skylight transferred in April 2015. Her performance as Kyra Hollis was received with critical acclaim and she has received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play.
In 2015, she starred in the film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd with Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Michael Sheen for director Thomas Vinterberg and Fox Searchlight. Later that year, she starred in Suffragette for director Sarah Gavron and screenwriter Abi Morgan, released in October.
In September 2016, it was announced that she would star oppostite Jake Gyllenhaal in the independent film Wildlife, the adaptation of a Richard Ford novel of the same name. The film would be directed by Paul Dano with a screenplay written by Dano and Zoe Kazan.
Voted Best Guest Actress by Doctor Who Magazine readers for Doctor Who: Blink (2007).
Won “Best Female Performance in a 2007 Science Fiction Television Episode” for the Doctor Who (2005) episode Doctor Who: Blink (2007), at The Constellation Awards (2008).
Has mentioned that she’d like to do a play every year.
Lived in London from birth until the age of three before moving with her family to Germany, where she attended the International School of Dusseldorf.
Is close friends with Keira Knightley, having met on the set of Pride and Prejudice (2005).
Married Marcus Mumford in a rustic farmhouse in Somerset before 200 guests, including actors Colin Firth, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sienna Miller. Mulligan wore a plain, backless ivory gown, had 8 bridesmaids and Mumford’s father, a vicar, officiated the ceremony.
Did not learn to drive until she was age 23, and only learned to do so for the film Never Let Me Go (2010).
Was childhood penpals with future husband Marcus Mumford, but the two lost touch before reconnecting as adults and later marrying.
Worked as a pub barmaid and studio runner between acting jobs.
Was inspired to become an actor at sixteen after seeing a performance of Henry V starring Kenneth Branagh.
Her acting idols are Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet.
(About her school) “I had wanted to act for a really long time, but other schools I had been to did not have such good drama departments. Everyone was so encouraging. You could do anything you wanted to, although you had to take it seriously. If you missed rehearsals, you were out.”
“I love love stories, I love acting in love stories, I like portraying love stories. So I suppose that’s the romantic side of me, but I am quite practical.”