Laura Carmichael

Laura Carmichael

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Laura Carmichael
Born Laura Elizabeth Carmichael
(1986-07-16) 16 July 1986 (age 30)
Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 2010–present

Laura Elizabeth Carmichael (born 16 July 1986)[1] is an English actress, most widely known for her performance as Lady Edith Crawley in the ITV (UK) and PBS (U.S.) television period drama series Downton Abbey. Her other television work includes Marcella (2016).,[2] and the feature film A United Kingdom (2016).[3]

Early life[edit]

Carmichael was born in Southampton, England,[1] to Sarah, a radiographer, and Andy Carmichael, a software consultant.[4] She is the middle of three daughters. Her sister Amy, who works for a software start-up company and her sister Olivia is a charity fundraiser with the NHS.[5]

One of Carmichael’s paternal great-grandfathers was aviator Captain Norman Blackburn, a British pilot and flying instructor during the First World War, and afterwards a director of Blackburn Aircraft.[4] She was educated at Shirley Junior School, The Mountbatten School,[6] and Peter Symonds College.[7] Carmichael attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, graduating in 2007, before spending two years in various odd jobs, including a teaching assistant, receptionist, and nanny while going to tiny auditions in fringe theatres.[8][9]


Film and television[edit]

Between 2010-15, she played Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey, a role which brought her worldwide recognition.[10] Commenting on gaining the role of Lady Edith, Carmichael says, “I don’t know how it happened with Downton; it really was a miracle. I think it was because I had a good drama school on my CV and they had struggled to find someone for Edith, because she had to be quite different from the two other girls [Lady Mary and Lady Sybil]”. Yet, the actress has enjoyed the role, “When I was at drama school I had quite a lot of wet, ingénue parts, so I’m delighted because it is much more fun playing her. It’s interesting how one role can make people see you differently”.[9]

Other television roles include parts in The Heart of Thomas Hardy, and End of Our Street.[7] In 2011, she appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and she played Henriette in the 2014 film of Madame Bovary.[7]

Carmichael stars in the 2015 British black comedy feature film Burn, Burn, Burn, a coming-of-age tale, inspired by the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road published in 1957. The directorial debut of Chanya Button, it follows the fictional story of two girls, Seph (Carmichael) and Alex (Chloe Pirrie), taking a road trip to follow the instructions of their close friend Dan, who has died and given them instructions where to scatter his ashes. The ashes (stored in tupperware in the glove compartment) keep diminishing in quantity as the trip progresses. The film had its World premiere at BFI London Film Festival 2015.[11][12]

In 2016, Carmichael stars in ITV’s new television crime drama series, Marcella, as Maddy Stevenson. Marcella focuses on a British Metropolitan police detective and single mother’s return to the murder squad, will be the first English show by Swedish screenwriter Hans Rosenfeldt, who created the Scandinavian television series The Bridge.[2]

In 2016, Carmichael portrays Muriel Williams in A United Kingdom, a political yet romantic drama, also starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo. The film sees Carmichael immersing herself in the early days of 1940s apartheid. She plays Muriel, the sister of Ruth Williams, the Englishwoman who (in real life) challenged colonial racism to marry Seretse Khama, who would become King of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) in 1948.[3]


Carmichael made her West End debut in Uncle Vanya opposite Anna Friel and Samuel West in October 2012.[13] She played Arabella in The Fitzrovia Radio Hour at The Underglobe Theatre in early 2013.[14]

In 2016, Carmichael played Madam in Jamie Lloyd‘s production of The Maids at the Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End, co-starring Uzo Aduba.[15][16]

Carmichael’s previous substantial role was in 2011, in David Hare’s Plenty at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre with co-stars Anna Friel as Yelena and Ken Stott as Vanya.[17]

She played Laura in Reasons for Living as part of the 2009 Scratch Festival at Battersea Arts Centre.[18] In late 2009, she played Miranda in a touring production of Shakespeare‘s The Tempest.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Carmichael lives in Camden, London.[5] Prior to landing the role of Lady Edith Crawley in early 2010, Carmichael had worked as a secretary in a doctor’s surgery.[20]


Year Title Role Notes
2009 House at the End of Our Street Yvonne
2010 The Heart of Thomas Hardy Hardy’s maid
2010–2015 Downton Abbey Lady Edith Crawley TV series 52 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2012, 2014, 2015)
2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Sal
2014 Madame Bovary Henrietta
2015 Burn Burn Burn Seph
2016 A United Kingdom Muriel Williams
2016 Marcella Maddy Stevenson


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Reasons for Living Laura BAC
2009 The Tempest Miranda/Ariel UK tour
2011 Plenty Louise/Dorcas Sheffield Crucible Theatre
2012 Uncle Vanya Sonya Vaudeville Theatre
2013 The Fitzrovia Radio Hour Arabella Underglobe Theatre
2016 The Maids Madam Trafalgar Studios

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