Michelle Dockery Biography

Actress (1981–)
Michelle Dockery is a British actress best known for playing Lady Mary Crawley on the hit show Downton Abbey.


Born in London, England, on December 15, 1981, Michelle Dockery attended two drama schools before embarking upon her professional acting career in 2004. She made her TV debut in 2005 in a BBC miniseries. Her big break came in 2010 when she landed the part of Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey. The series has gone on to be a smash international hit, making Dockery a star and garnering her several award nominations.

Early Years

Michelle Dockery was born on December 15, 1981, in Romford, East London, England, the youngest of three girls. She was raised in Romford and educated at the Chadwell Heath Foundation School before training at the Finch Stage School and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. As a child, she would go to auditions, at one point trying out for The Sound of Music (but she was apparently overlooked because of her cockney accent).

After graduating from Guildhall in 2004, Dockery joined the National Youth Theatre and made her professional debut in His Dark Materials at the Royal National Theatre. She made her television debut the following year as Betty in Fingersmith, a two-part BBC miniseries. In 2006, Dockery was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award for her performance in Pillars of the Community, again at the Royal National Theatre.

During this period, Dockery kept herself and the critics busy, appearing in Burnt by the Sun at the National Theatre (and earning an Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress), Pygmalion (for which she won second prize at the Ian Charleson Awards) and Bath, on a U.K. tour and at the Old Vic (for which she was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Evening Standard Awards).

A Career on a Roll

With a solid amount of theater success under her belt, Dockery began popping up regularly in TV movies, such as Hogfather (2006), Consent (2007) and Poppy Shakespeare (2008), and in TV series such as Heartbeat (2008) and Waking the Dead (2009). Her big break came in the fall of 2010, with the principal role of the snooty Lady Mary Crawley in the BBC series Downton Abbey.

The show was an instant hit and became an international smash, propelling Dockery into the spotlight. For the series' first season, she was nominated for a Southbank Award for Best Breakthrough Performance in a TV drama. In 2012 she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. That same year, she and the cast won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and 2013 brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama.

Her TV success has allowed her to begin the transition into big-screen feature films, with roles in the assassin thriller Hanna (2011) and the 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina. She is also a featured player in the 2013 thriller Non-Stop, starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.

When she isn't acting on screen or stage, Michelle Dockery is an accomplished singer, occasionally appearing with Downton Abbey co-star Elizabeth McGovern's band, Sadie and the Hotheads.

Personal Life

In 2013 Dockery began dating businessman John Dineen and later, the two became engaged. The couple were introduced to each other by Downton co-star Allen Leech.

In a tragic turn of events, Dineen died of a rare cancer in December 2015. Dockery spoke and sang at Dineen's funeral, which was held in Ireland.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!