Leslie at the 2014 ComicCon
|Born||Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie
(1987-02-09) 9 February 1987
|Height||5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)|
Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie (born 9 February 1987), known professionally as Rose Leslie, is a Scottish actress. After winning a Scottish BAFTA for Best Acting Performance for her role in New Town, she rose to fame as Gwen Dawson in the ITV drama series Downton Abbey and Ygritte in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. She currently stars as Maia Rindell in the CBS All Access legal drama The Good Fight.
Early life and ancestry
Leslie was born to a noble family in Aberdeen, Scotland. She was raised at Lickleyhead Castle in Aberdeenshire, her family’s 15th century ancestral seat. Her father, Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie, is the Aberdeenshire Chieftain of Clan Leslie. Her mother is Candida Mary Sibyl “Candy” Leslie (née Weld) of Clan Fraser, great-granddaughter of Simon Fraser, 13th Lord Lovat (a descendant of Charles II). Her family presently resides at the 12th century Warthill Castle in Scotland’s Old Rayne. Her great-great grandfather was Don Guillermo de Landa y Escandon, who served as Mayor of Mexico City, and she is also cousin-in-law to the British historian, William Dalrymple (FRAS). Leslie’s ancestors include French Huguenot Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle, politician Charles March-Phillipps and MP James Grimston, 3rd Earl of Verulam.
She is the third of five children and describes growing up together as “important. We are a big, close family”. Jokingly, she recalls having middle child syndrome and being the family’s only redhead and “the sole ‘ginger’ in a 40-mile radius at school” as the predispositions in her desire to become an actress where “different was O.K.” She was educated at Rayne North School in Aberdeenshire and then the private school Millfield in Street, Somerset, before spending three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
|[show]Ancestors of Rose Leslie|
Leslie was heavily involved in plays at LAMDA, starring in stage productions such as Uncle Vanya, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Country Wife, as well as a stint on BBC Radio narrating The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People. Her experiences allowed her to receive a BASSC certificate in stage combat and master diction in various dialects, which would prove useful in later roles. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts hons in 2008.
In September and October 2010, she became the lead in Nell Leyshon‘s infamous play Bedlam held at Globe Theatre. Based on the Bethlem Royal Hospital, representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform, Leslie portrayed May, a beautiful country girl driven mad by lost love. The Daily Telegraph‘s Charles Spencer praised her performance, commenting, “Leslie proves genuinely poignant.” Her break-through role came as Gwen Dawson, a housemaid, in the first series (2010–11) of the ITV television drama Downton Abbey. In 2011, while on Downton Abbey, Leslie briefly appeared in two episodes of the British drama series Case Histories.
In 2012, she was cast in the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. For her role as wildling Ygritte in seasons two, three and four, Leslie was met with major acclaim. The A.V. Club‘s Rowan Kaiser stated: “As Ygritte, [Rose] is both dangerous and flirtatious, and it’s fun to watch.” Den of Geek‘s David Crow exclaimed, “A complicated character […] Rose Leslie devours the screen.” In 2013, Vox.com‘s Todd VanDerWerff (under The A.V. Club) review for “The Climb” episode, “(In the books) Ygritte is a means to an end… (but) on screen, as embodied by Rose Leslie, she becomes something more,” whilst The Atlantic‘s Christopher Orr summed her portrayal in 2014’s episode “The Watchers of the Wall” by concluding: “Rose Leslie has been one of a handful of performers on the show who’ve really elevated their characters above what they were in the books.”
While on Game of Thrones, Leslie appeared in the 2012 drama film Now Is Good alongside Dakota Fanning and in episodes of ITV detective television series Vera, Channel 4 conspiracy drama Utopia and BBC One‘s comedy series Blandings.
From October to November 2014, she top-billed in the four-part mini-series The Great Fire. She then starred in the horror film Honeymoon with Harry Treadaway. She has since played DS Emma Lane in the BBC detective drama Luther with Idris Elba with positive response and starred alongside Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood in the 2015 action adventure/fantasy film The Last Witch Hunter. In 2016, she will portray the character of Athena in Sticky Notes with Ray Liotta.
In 2016, Leslie was cast in The Good Fight, a CBS All Access legal drama and spin off of The Good Wife. She plays Maia Rindell, a new lawyer who just passed the bar and whose family is involved in a financial scam, destroying her reputation. The first episode aired in February 2017.
Leslie is fluent in French, having lived in France for three years. While working as an actress, she resided in Battersea, London until relocating to North London. She often professes to miss her hometown, saying: “Aberdeen… in the middle of the countryside, all trees and nature. […] My parents would send us out for the day, we had lots of freedom. Going back is still an escape! […] I feel very much at peace in Scotland”.
Rose Leslie declared her support in favour of Scotland remaining a devolved part of the United Kingdom during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign. At the 2015 UK general election, Leslie campaigned with the Conservatives in her local constituency of Gordon, Aberdeenshire. Her father, Sebastian Leslie, was elected to serve as a Conservative Councillor on Aberdeenshire Council as part of the 2017 Council elections, representing the West Garioch ward on the Council.
|Now Is Good||2012||Fiona||Parker !Ol Parker|||
|Honeymoon||2014||Bea||Janiak !Leigh Janiak|||
|Last !The Last Witch Hunter||2015||Chloe||Eisner !Breck Eisner|||
|The Last Dance||2016||Athena||Sharp !Amanda Sharp||US title: Sticky Notes|||
|Morgan||Menser !Dr. Amy Menser||Scott !Luke Scott|||
|Banged Up Abroad||2008||Kim||Channel 5||Episode: “Lima”|||
|New Town||2009||Rhian||BBC||Television film|||
|Downton Abbey||2010, 2015||Dawson !Gwen Dawson||ITV||8 episodes|||
|Case Histories||2011||Wyre !Laura Wyre||BBC||2 episodes|||
|Vera||2012||Holgate !Lena Holgate||ITV||Episode: “The Ghost Position”|||
|Game of Thrones||2012–2014||Ygritte||HBO||17 episodes|||
|Blandings||2014||Donaldson !Niagra Donaldson||BBC One||Episode: “Custody of the Pumpkin”|||
|Utopia||2014||Milner !Young Milner||Channel 4||Episode #2.1|||
|Great !The Great Fire||2014||Farriner !Sarah Farriner||ITV||4 episodes|||
|Luther||2015||Lane !DS Emma Lane||BBC One||2 episodes|||
|The Good Fight||2017–present||Maia Rindell||CBS All Access||Main role|||
|The Worst Witch||2017||Griselda Blackwood||CBBC|
|Year||Title||Venue / Touring Theatre||Director||Ref|
|Mixed Up North||Touring
Wilton’s Music Hall
|Romeo and Juliet||Love and Madness Company||John Link|
|The Learned Ladies||Jenny Lipman|
|The Caucasian Chalk Circle||Touring
Out of Joint Theatre Company
|Breaking Barriers in Burnley||Out of Joint Theatre Company||Robin Soans & Clark|
|Uncle Vanya||LAMDA||Colin Cook|
|The Children’s Monologues||Royal Court Theatre||Danny Boyle|
|Bedlam||Globe Theatre||Nell Leyshon|
Awards and nominations
|2009||British Academy Scotland New Talent Awards||Best Acting Performance||New Town||Won|||
|2013||Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
(shared with the cast)