Rose Leslie

Rose Leslie

Leslie at the 2014 ComicCon
Born Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie
(1987-02-09) 9 February 1987
Aberdeen, Scotland
Residence London, UK[1]
Occupation Actress
Years active 2005–present
Agent Hamilton Hodell[2]
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)[2]

Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie[3] (born 9 February 1987),[3] 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.

Early life

Leslie was born to a noble family in Aberdeen, Scotland.[4] She was raised at Lickleyhead Castle in Aberdeenshire, her family's 15th century ancestral seat.[5] 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).[6] Her family presently owns the 12th century Warthill Castle in Scotland's Old Rayne.[7][8][9]

She is the third of five children and describes growing up together as "important. We are a big, close family".[10] 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."[10] She was educated at Rayne North School and then Millfield School in Street, Somerset,[11] before spending three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[12]


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.[12]

Her leading on screen debut came at age 21 in the television film New Town (2009), for which she won the Scottish BAFTA for Best Acting Performance – New Talent Award.[13][14]

In September and October 2010, she became the lead in Nell Leyshon's infamous play Bedlam held at Globe Theatre.[15] 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.[16][17] The Daily Telegraph's Charles Spencer praised her performance, commenting, "Leslie proves genuinely poignant."[18] Her break-through role came as Gwen Dawson, a housemaid, in the first series (2010–11) of the ITV television drama Downton Abbey.[19]

In 2011, while on Downton Abbey, Leslie briefly appeared in two episodes of the British drama series Case Histories.[20][21]

In 2012, she was cast in the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones.[22] 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."[23] Den of Geek's David Crow exclaimed, "A complicated character [...] Rose Leslie devours the screen."[24] In 2013,'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,"[25] 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."[26]

While on Game of Thrones, Leslie appeared in the 2012 drama film Now Is Good alongside Dakota Fanning[27] and in episodes of ITV detective television series Vera,[28] Channel 4 conspiracy drama Utopia[29] and BBC One's comedy series Blandings.[30]

From October to November 2014, she top-billed in the four-part mini-series The Great Fire.[31] She then starred in the horror film Honeymoon with Harry Treadaway.[32] She has since played DS Emma Lane in the BBC detective drama Luther with Idris Elba with positive response[33] and starred alongside Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood in the 2015 action adventure/fantasy film The Last Witch Hunter.[34][35] In 2016, she will portray the character of Athena in Sticky Notes with Ray Liotta.[36]

Personal life

Leslie is fluent in French, having lived in France for three years. While working as an actress, she resided in Battersea, London[10] until relocating to North London.[37] She often professes to missing her hometown, saying: "Aberdeen... in the middle of the countryside, all trees and nature.[37] [...] My parents would send us out for the day, we had lots of freedom. Going back is still an escape![38] [...] I feel very much at peace in Scotland".[37]

She is an avid runner and enjoys rock climbing, cooking,[39] skiing, archery and tennis.[10][12]

Leslie has been in an on-and-off relationship with Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington since 2012. They confirmed their relationship in 2016.[40][41][42]

Rose Leslie declared her support in favour of Scotland remaining a devolved part of the United Kingdom during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign.[43] At the 2015 UK general election, Leslie campaigned with the Conservatives in her local constituency of Gordon, Aberdeenshire.[44]



Leslie in 2013 for Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel

Leslie in 2013 for Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel

Title Year Role Director Notes Ref(s)
Now Is Good 2012 Fiona Ol Parker [27]
Honeymoon 2014 Bea Leigh Janiak [32]
The Last Witch Hunter 2015 Chloe Breck Eisner [34]
Sticky Notes 2016 Athena Amanda Sharp [36]
Morgan 2016 Amy Menser Luke Scott [45]


Title Year Role Network Notes Ref.
Banged Up Abroad 2008 Kim Channel 5 Episode: "Lima" [46]
New Town 2009 Rhian BBC Television film [13]
Downton Abbey 2010, 2015 Gwen Dawson ITV 8 episodes [20]
Case Histories 2011 Laura Wyre BBC 2 episodes [20]
Vera 2012 Lena Holgate ITV Episode: "The Ghost Position" [28]
Game of Thrones 2012–2014 Ygritte HBO 17 episodes [22]
Blandings 2014 Niagra Donaldson BBC One Episode: "Custody of the Pumpkin" [30]
Utopia 2014 Young Milner Channel 4 Episode #2.1 [29]
The Great Fire 2014 Sarah Farriner ITV 4 episodes [31]
Luther 2015 DS Emma Lane BBC One 2 episodes [33]
The Good Fight 2017 Maia CBS All Access [47]


Year Title Venue / Touring Theatre Director Ref

Mixed Up North Touring
Wilton's Music Hall
Octagon Theatre
Max Stafford-Clark
Romeo and Juliet Love and Madness Company John Link
Can-Can LAMDA Anne Durham
Pericles Rodney Cottier
The Learned Ladies Jenny Lipman
The Caucasian Chalk Circle Touring
Out of Joint Theatre Company
MacOwan Theatre
John Baxter
Breaking Barriers in Burnley Out of Joint Theatre Company Robin Soans & Clark
Uncle Vanya LAMDA Colin Cook
Antigone Mark Bell
The Children's Monologues Royal Court Theatre Danny Boyle
Bedlam Globe Theatre Nell Leyshon

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2009 British Academy Scotland New Talent Awards Best Acting Performance New Town Won [13]
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
(shared with the cast)
Game of Thrones Nominated [48]


Leslie's ancestors include French Huguenot Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle, politician Charles March-Phillipps and MOP James Grimston, 3rd Earl of Verulam. Her great-great grandfather was Guillermo de Landa y Escandón, who served as Mayor of Mexico City.[49] She is cousin-in-law to the British historian William Dalrymple (FRAS).[50]


  1. "Game of Thrones Stars in London". The Resident. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Rose Leslie – Hamilton Hodell – CV". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Rose Leslie". Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  4. "Downton Abbey web-site". Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  5. McDonald, Toby (12 October 2011). "Downton Abbey maid Rose Leslie grew up a Scottish castle Lady". Daily Record. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  6. Smith, Emma. "Aberdeenshire castle where Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie was born is put on the market for £1.3 million". dailyrecord. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  7. Leslie, Sebastian. "Warthill Castle". About Scotland. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  8. "Clan Leslie, Aberdeenshire Council". Aberdeenshire Council. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  9. "Obituary Jillian Ada Burcher". Newsletter of Clan Leslie Society of Australia and New Zealand, CLANZ. December 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Cover story: Wilding Rose turns up the heat". Mail Online. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  11. "Old Millfieldian Society". Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 4 "Rose Leslie" (PDF). London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. 17 July 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  13. 1 2 3 "New Talent Awards in 2009". The BAFTA site: Scotland. British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
  14. "Awards and Nominations". LAMDA. The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
  15. "Review of Nell Leyshon's Bedlam at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre in London 2010". Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  16. "Rose Leslie CV". Hamilton Hodell. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  17. "Charliebrown" (20 July 2010). "Downton Abbey – Rose Leslie". Enchanted Serenity of Period Films. Ottawa, Canada:
  18. "Bedlam, Globe Theatre, review". Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  19. "Downton Abbey web-site". Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  20. 1 2 3 "Case Histories, Series 1, Case Histories – Part 1". BBC. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  21. "Cast and Credits". PBS. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  22. 1 2 "Rose Leslie: 'It was hard to say goodbye to Ygritte'". The Guardian. 11 January 2015. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  23. Kaiser, Rowan. "GAME OF THRONES RECAP 6: THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW". Press Play. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  24. "Game of Thrones: The Watchers On The Wall Review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  25. "Game of Thrones (experts): "The Climb" (for experts)". Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  26. Sullivan, Spencer Kornhaber, Christopher Orr, and Amy. "The One Disappointing Thing About That Huge Game of Thrones Battle". The Atlantic. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  27. 1 2 "Now Is Good (2012) – Cast, Crew & Credits". Moviefone. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  28. 1 2 "'Vera,' Episode 5: 'The Ghost Position'". KCET. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  29. 1 2 Jeffery, Morgan (16 October 2013). "'Game of Thrones' star Rose Leslie joins 'Utopia' series 2". Digital Spy. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  30. 1 2 "Blandings, Series 2, Custody of the Pumpkin". BBC. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  31. 1 2 "ITV casting announcement of The Great Fire". ITV Press Centre. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  32. 1 2 "Rose Leslie's 'Honeymoon' turns horrible in new clip". Entertainment Weekly. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  33. 1 2 "Luther series 4 episode 2 review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  34. 1 2 "Vin Diesel's Bushy 'The Last Witch Hunter' Beard". Bloody Disgusting. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  35. Mr. Disgusting (6 August 2015). "New 'The Last Witch Hunter' Trailer Pits Vin Diesel in the Middle of a Witch War!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  36. 1 2 Lesnick, Silas (4 June 2014). "Sticky Notes Adds Rose Leslie, Justin Bartha and Gina Rodriguez". Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  37. 1 2 3 "Interview: Rose Leslie, from Wildling warrior to London detective". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  38. Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie confesses her love for Luther co-star Idris Elba as she dazzles in bold prints for fashion-forward shoot
  39. "DATE WITH KATE: ROSE LESLIE". Kate Waterhouse. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  40. "'Game of Thrones' Co-Stars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie Make Red Carpet Debut as a Couple". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  41. Staff, Hollywood Life; Staff, Hollywood Life (27 August 2012). "Are 'Game of Thrones' Stars Kit Harington & Rose Leslie Dating?". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  42. "Game of Thrones' Kit Harington and Rose Leslie Share Serious PDA During L.A. Shopping Trip". Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  43. "Scottish Game Of Thrones actress backs Union". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  44. "Game of Thrones star joins the Tory campaign trail in north-east". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  45. Getell, Oliver (May 24, 2016). "First look at Kate Mara in Luke Scott's sci-fi thriller Morgan". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  46. "Rose Leslie Body Measurements Bra Size Height Weight Shoe Vital Statistics". Celebrityinside. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  47. Andreeva, Nellie (October 12, 2016). "'The Good Wife': Rose Leslie Cast In Spinoff Series For CBS All Access". Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  48. "SAG Awards Nominations: '12 Years A Slave' and 'Breaking Bad' Lead Way". 11 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  49. Obituary for Mary Luz Arbuthnot-Leslie
  50. Margaret Atwood. "Margaret Atwood on Game of Thrones: 'Real people, every murderous one'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
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