Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Downton Abbey and Godless
Currently Known For:
Actress and Singer
2010 - Present
December 15, 1981
Downton Abbey and Godless
To view another celebrity please click the next celebrity button below or read the full article by scrolling further below.
“I don’t get recognized all the time, but it tends to happen more in America, and people are so lovely when they do.” Hailing from across the pond, Michelle Dockery is one of the biggest names in Hollywood today after first gaining fame in her native England for her performance as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey (2010-2015). Earning a Golden Globe Award nomination and three Primetime Emmy Awards for her performance in the series, Dockery recently reprised her role in the 2019 film, Downton Abbey. Also known for her work in the Netflix miniseries Godless, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination, let’s take a closer look at the 37-year-old’s career in the spotlight!
1980s to Stardom
The youngest of three daughters, Michelle Suzanne Dockery was born on December 15, 1981, in Rush Green, Essex, England. She discovered her passion for performing at a very young age. “I wanted to entertain from such a young age, doing impersonations, and putting on plays with my sisters,” she recalled. “I always had it in me and loved it.” Often performing for visiting family members, she also went to stage school three times a week and honed her talents in singing, ballet, tap, modern dance, and acting.
After completing high school or her A Levels, as they’re known in the United Kingdom, Dockery enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She graduated in 2004 and, as a member of the National Youth Theatre, made her professional debut in a production of His Dark Materials at the Royal National Theatre. She made her television debut as Betty in Fingersmith in 2005 and, the following year, starred as Susan Sto Helit in Hogfather (2006). She also earned the Ian Charleson Award for her stage performance in Pillars of the Community (2006) at the National Theatre. Enjoying similar results with her Olivier Award-nominated performance in Burnt By the Sun, she then starred as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion at the Theatre Royal in 2008 before tackling the role of Ophelia in the Crucible Theatre production of Hamlet in 2010.
Amid her success on the stage, Dockery also appeared in Waking the Dead and Return to Cranford in 2009. Then, in 2010, she caught a huge break when she was cast as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey (2010-2015). The series made Dockery a star in her native England as she earned three Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination. “I think the success of Downton is partly because there are effectively 18 leading characters, all given equal importance, so it’s enormously involving on many levels,” she said of the series. “But also, it’s a new story. It’s not like Dickens or Austen where everyone knows the denouement.”
While starring on Downton Abbey from 2010 to 2015, Dockery also extended her reach to the silver screen when she was cast as False Marissa in Hanna (2011). She appeared as Princess Myagkaya in Anna Karenina (2012) and in the BBC One spy thriller Restless in 2012. She joined Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore in Non-Stop (2014) and earned her place as one of Britain’s most influential people. In 2015, she proved she was beyond being typecast when she joined Ryan Reynolds in Self-less. “I think it’s the opposite sometimes, with a show like this—if somebody’s casting a 1920s period drama, they won’t look for people like us—the Downton cast, because it’d be like seeing Lady Mary all over again.”
Life After Downton Abbey
After wrapping up Downton Abbey in 2015, Dockery didn’t have any trouble finding work. She starred as the drug-addicted con-artist and thief Letty Raines in Good Behavior, which ran for two seasons from 2016 to 2018. When she heard one of her favorite books, The Sense of Ending, was being adapted into a film, she jumped at the opportunity. “The film is a beautiful adaptation of the book which I love, and I jumped at the chance to work with director Ritesh Batra,” Dockery said. Following this project, she starred in the Netflix western miniseries, Godless (2017).
Dockery returned to the spotlight in 2019 when she reprised her role as Lady Mary Crawley in the Downton Abbey film. “It feels like a long time coming,” she said. “The film was rumored for so long, then there was the question of ‘Are we going to do this?’ Hugh Bonneville described it as though we were all holding hands on the edge of a cliff working out whether to jump. It felt that way, as though if we weren’t all going to do it, it wouldn’t work. And the timing was perfect, I thought, to get back together. It gave the audience enough time to miss it.”
The film held even more meaning for Dockery since it served as a gentle reminder of wrapping up the show in 2015 just months before losing her fiancé, John Dineen, to cancer. “After Downton, I did a lot, and of course these roles come along, and you take those opportunities,” she said, “but returning to Mary was… I’d forgotten how much I’d loved her, putting on those costumes. Normally when you do a job there’s a certain amount of research and meeting new people involved, and nervousness that you go through. As actors, we’re constantly questioning ourselves. What was great about Downton was that I was going back home.”
Dockery’s return to Downton was well-received with the film earning over $72 million worldwide when it first hit theaters in September 2019. That’s made Dockery an even bigger star especially since there are rumors that the next James Bond might be a woman… and could easily be Dockery! So, what does the 37-year-old think about playing Bond? “I love Bond, so yeah, I’d never say no,” she says. “I think a lot is changing with those films—I’m looking forward to the next one for that reason… those roles with a darker side definitely appeal to me, but it’s all about making them feel authentic. I’ve never played a really mean character.”
Whether or not Dockery is the next Bond is still up for debate but that hasn’t stopped the actress and singer from tackling her next big projects. She’s currently wrapping up filming for The Gentleman (2020), made an appearance in an episode of Tuca & Bertie (2019), and will return to television in the eight-episode miniseries Defending Jacob in 2020!