Carey Mulligan was born in Westminster, London, England into a middle-class family. Along with her parents and her brother Owain, she moved to Germany when she was three years old and returned to England five years later. As a child, Carey discovered her love of acting while at Woldingham School in Surrey and thereafter pursued an acting career voraciously, even though her parents disapproved.
As a teenager, she wrote a letter to famed director/actor Kenneth Branagh asking for advice on whether she should become an actress. His sister replied, telling Carey that if she felt such a strong desire to be an actress, then she should pursue that path. At 17 years old, she applied, but failed to get into, several acting schools. That didn’t deter her at all; her perseverance in asking for advice from prominent individuals in the industry eventually led to her making contact with a casting assistant. The connection resulted in her auditioning for and nabbing of the role of Kitty Bennett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice (2005) with Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Donald Sutherland.
Carey’s role in the film quickly ushered her into more demanding roles, such as that of Ada Clare in BBC’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House alongside Gillian Anderson. For the next few years, she starred mainly in British television series, including The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, Waking the Dead, and Doctor Who, as well as television movies, most notably the WWI drama My Boy Jack with Daniel Radcliffe. Around this time, Carey also received critical acclaim for her performance in the London theatrical production of The Seagull, which also starred Kristin Scott Thomas and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
It was in 2009’s An Education that finally found Carey stepping fully into the spotlight. She played Jenny Mellor, a teenager who falls for a playboy in 1960s England, and was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actor’s Guild Award, and won a BAFTA for her role. After that, she began to consistently land high-profile roles.
She appeared in Public Enemies (2009) with Johnny Depp, Brothers (2009) with Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) with Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf, and as Kathy in Never Let Me Go (2010) with Andrew Garfield and her friend from Pride & Prejudice, Keira Knightley. For her heart-wrenching role in the film, she won a British Independent Film Award, although the movie failed to garner any acting Oscar nominations. For a time, she went back to the theater and has since taken on riskier film roles in Drive (2011) with Ryan Gosling and Shame (2011) with Michael Fassbender.
Carey has appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013), based on the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and in the Coen Brothers’ movie Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), which premiered at Cannes. Later, she starred in Suffragette (2015) and Far From the Madding Crowd (2015).
In 2017, she starred in the Netflix film Mudbound, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2020, she starred in the revenge thriller, Promising Young Woman, which has garnered her rave reviews and award season buzz. For her work in the film, she earned an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination as well as a Screen Actors Guild award nod. She also stars opposite Ralph Fiennes in the Netflix original film The Dig, which debuted on the streamer in 2021.
Carey’s personal life took off just like her career—in April 2012, she married childhood pal Marcus Mumford, the lead singer for the band Mumford & Sons. She is also using her fame as an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society. She currently lives in England.
The Dig (2021)
Promising Young Woman (2020)
Far from the Madding Crowd (2015)
National Theatre Live: Skylight (2014)
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Public Enemies (2009)
An Education (2009)
The Greatest (2009)
When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007)
Pride & Prejudice (2005)