When she was a little girl, Carey Mulligan dreamed of becoming an actress. She is now one of the most biggest names in Hollywood; the down-to-earth Brit with an elfin smile that has become a box office favourite.
Since making her debut as Kitty Bennet in Pride & Prejudice in 2005, Carey has gone on win acclaim and the respect of her peers in films including Never Let Me Go, Drive, and Shame. She received wide-spread recognition playing the lead role of Jenny in the 2009 film An Education, for which she was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a SAG award and which earned her a BAFTA for best actress.
Now, Carey, 27, is back, lighting up the silver screen alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann's revival of The Great Gatsby.
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Despite her leading lady status, Carey tends to stay away from the spotlight, preferring instead to protect her privacy and maintain a dignified distance from the celebrity circuit — so who is the talented young woman behind these great characters? Here's five things you should know about Carey Mulligan.
1. Not only is she a talented actress, Carey can sing. She performed as lead female vocal on Belle & Sebastian's song What About Love in 2010.
2. Her desire to keep her private life private hasn't stopped Carey dating some very famous faces. In the past, she has been linked to her Wall Street 2 co-star Shia LaBeouf, Jake Gyllenhaal and Eddie Redmayne.
Carey is now a happily married woman, after tying the knot with Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford in April 2012. Ex-boyfriend Jake was reportedly among the 200 guests who attended the rustic farmhouse wedding, alongside stars Colin Firth and Sienna Miller.
3. She once wrote to Kenneth Branagh for acting advice. When Carey was still at school, she went to see the thespian play Henry V and was so inspired she wrote asking him to be her mentor.
"I explained that my parents didn't want me to act, but that I felt it was my vocation in life," she said. She still has the letter she received from the actor's sister saying, "Kenneth says that if you feel such a strong need to be an actress, you must be an actress."
4. It was another British great, Julian Fellowes, who helped set her on the path to stardom. With three failed auditions behind her, and her parents insisting she apply to university, Carey was determined to give acting one last try.
"It was as if I had got into an arranged marriage and the clock was ticking away," she's said. "The only actor I had ever met in my life was Julian Fellowes, who came to do a talk at my school. I wrote to my headmistress explaining that I didn’t want to go to university and wanted to get in touch with him. I knew it was a bit of a long shot, but I was desperate."
Julian was so impressed by Carey's determination, he invited her to dinner. "I sat next to Carey, and she struck a chord: she was aiming at a goal, she said, which had no precedent within her own family circle, which at times felt to her, and I presume to her parents, was as realistic as trying for a course in space travel or alchemy," he recalled.
His wife Emma also saw the potential in Carey and the next day they telephoned every agent and casting director they knew. "By lunchtime, she’d discovered that they were auditioning new faces for Pride & Prejudice," Julian said. "More strings were pulled, and a few days later Carey had an interview. And that was it, really."
5. Carey's down-to-earth approach made a big impression on Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield while they were filming Never Let Me Go. "We were asked to name our favorite films, and everyone was showing off about which Michael Haneke they loved the most," he has said. "Carey said, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and I woke up."