Carey Hannah Mulligan (born 28 May 1985) is an English actress and singer. She made her acting debut on stage in London in the Kevin Elyot play Forty Winks in 2004. Her feature film debut was as Kitty Bennet in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. She had early roles on British television in such programmes as Bleak House, and Doctor Who. In 2008, she made her Broadway debut in a revival of Chekhov’s The Seagull to critical acclaim.
Mulligan received widespread recognition for her performance in the film An Education (2009). For her role as Jenny Mellor (based on the memoir of journalist Lynn Barber), she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 2015, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her performance in the Broadway revival of David Hare’s Skylight. She is also known for her roles in Never Let Me Go (2010), Drive (2011), Shame (2011), The Great Gatsby (2013), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), and Suffragette (2015).
She is an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and War Child. She is married to British musician Marcus Mumford, with whom she has a daughter.
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, Mulligan 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.”
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. Mulligan 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 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, 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 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 Mulligan 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.” Mulligan 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.
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. Mulligan 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.”
Mulligan 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 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.
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.
She starred in Suffragette for director Sarah Gavron and screenwriter Abi Morgan, released in October 2015.
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.
Mulligan is married to Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of Mumford & Sons. They were childhood pen pals who lost touch and reconnected as adults. They married on 21 April 2012, a few weeks after wrapping production on the film Inside Llewyn Davis, in which they were both involved. They have a daughter, Evelyn Grace Mumford, born in September 2015.