Date of Birth: December 15, 1981
Most familiar to audiences as the conniving Lady Mary Crawley on the PBS award-winning series Downton Abbey, Michelle Dockery is one of three daughters to parents Michael and Lorraine. She was born in Essex, England and warmed to acting, eventually graduating in 2004 from London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The same year, she made her professional stage debut in His Dark Materials.
A year later, she won her first on-screen part in the crime drama miniseries Fingersmith. She played Betty alongside Sally Hawkins and Imelda Staunton.
More TV work followed Fingersmith. She acted in the TV movie Hogfather (2006), appeared in the crime drama TV movie Consent (2007), worked on two episodes of the crime drama series Dalziel and Pascoe (2007), snagged a part in the TV movie Poppy Shakespeare (2008) and earned a role on an episode of the popular series Heartbeat (2008).
She maintained a busy schedule in 2009, working on several projects. She played Kathryn Tyler in both Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983 and Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974, appeared alongside Anna Paquin and Marcia Gay Harden in the Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy-winning war biopic TV movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, acted in two episodes of the mystery series Waking the Dead and starred in the horror TV movie The Turn of the Screw. Michelle also earned a role in the BAFTA- and Emmy-winning TV series Cranford. She played Erminia Whyte in the period drama alongside Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton.
Her career dramatically changed in 2010 when she landed the role of Lady Mary Crawley in Julian Fellowes' series Downton Abbey. Initially cold, her character developed over six seasons and proved to be a rather caring, concerned individual. Michelle appeared in all 52 episodes of the Emmy-, Golden Globe- and SAG Award-winning program alongside Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, among others.
For her performance in the beloved period drama, Michelle was nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG Award, Critics' Choice TV Award and three Emmys. Although she didn't win in the single categories, she did share three SAG awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series with the rest of the cast.
In October 2016, she chatted with Vanity Fair and opened up about the show and its popularity. She said, "When it finished initially, [I couldn't] quite believe it's over because it's been so much part of [my] life for so long. But it was just an incredible journey. We had no idea it would have the impact it had. And it's interesting because six years together, you do become a family."
She added, "Our show kind of really hit a nerve in people. There was something really familiar and accessible about the characters, even though they were living in a time that seems so alien to us."
She also said she particularly misses Laura Carmichael, who played her sister on the show.
Since Downtown, Michelle has made the transition to the big screen. She worked with Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana in the action thriller Hanna (2011); starred alongside Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Anna Karenina (2012); acted with Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in the thriller Non-Stop (2014) and joined forces with Ryan Reynolds and Matthew Goode in the sci-fi mystery flick Self/less (2015).
That's not to say she's abandoned her TV roots, though. In 2012, Michelle starred alongside Tom Hiddleston on the period series The Hollow Crown and in the same year, teamed up with Hayley Atwell for the Emmy-nominated TV movie Restless. Her latest TV credit is the crime drama series Good Behavior, in which she plays a con artist and thief named Letty Dobesh, who gets caught up with a hit man. The series premiered in 2016.
Addressing Good Behavior, Michelle told Vanity Fair the series covers several themes, is both funny and sad, and is difficult to slot into one genre.
She played Susie Webster in the drama The Sense of an Ending (2017) with Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling and Matthew Goode, who played her second husband on Downton Abbey. She reprised her TV role as Mary Crawley in the big screen sequel, Downton Abbey (2019), along with the rest of the cast.
In 2020, she was part of an ensemble cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Henry Golding, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant in Guy Ritchie's latest crime actioner, The Gentlemen (2020).
Most recently, in the Apple TV+ series Defending Jacob (2020), she starred opposite Chris Evans as the parents of a teenager who is accused of murder.
Michelle was engaged to Irish PR director John Dineen on Valentine's Day in 2015. Sadly, he died of cancer in December that year, only days before Michelle's 34th birthday.
In November 2013, Michelle told The Guardian that her mantra is "Expect nothing and hope for the best" and revealed that Samantha Morton is the actor who inspired her to get into the business. She said, "Samantha Morton made me want to become an actor. A lot of my inspiration came from watching Cracker. I remember seeing her and thinking, 'I want to do that.' She was so gripping."
The Sense of an Ending (2017)
Anna Karenina (2012)