Ruth Wilson

Last updated

Ruth Wilson
Ruth Wilson May 2015 (cropped).jpg
Wilson in July 2015
Born (1982-01-13) 13 January 1982 (age 39)
Ashford, Surrey, England
Education Notre Dame School, Surrey
Alma mater University of Nottingham
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active2003–present
Relatives Alexander Wilson (grandfather)
Dennis Wilson (half-uncle)

Ruth Wilson (born 13 January 1982) [1] is an English actress. She is known for her performances in Suburban Shootout (2005), Jane Eyre (2006), as Alice Morgan in the BBC psychological crime drama Luther (2010–2013, 2019), [2] as Alison Lockhart in the Showtime drama The Affair (2014–2018), as the titular character in Mrs Wilson (2018), and as Marisa Coulter in the BBC/HBO fantasy series His Dark Materials (2019–present). Her film credits include The Lone Ranger (2013), Saving Mr. Banks (2013), I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016), and Dark River (2017).


Wilson is a three-time Olivier Award nominee and two-time winner, earning the Best Actress for the titular role in Anna Christie , and the Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire . [3] She has won a Golden Globe for her role in The Affair and received nominations for a British Academy Television Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for the title role in Jane Eyre .

Early life

Wilson was born in Ashford, Surrey, the daughter of Mary, a probation officer, and Nigel Wilson, an investment banker. [4] She has three older brothers: Toby, Sam (a BBC journalist) and Matthew. She is the granddaughter of novelist and MI6 officer Alexander Wilson and his third, bigamously-married, wife, Alison (née McKelvie). [5] [6] Her great-grandmother was Irish. [7] Wilson grew up in Shepperton, Surrey, [8] and was raised as a Catholic. [9]

Wilson attended Notre Dame School, an independent Catholic school for girls located in Cobham, before attending sixth form at Esher College. [10] As a teenager, she worked as a model. She studied history at the University of Nottingham, and while there was also involved in student drama at the Nottingham New Theatre. She graduated from Nottingham in 2003 and from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) in July 2005. [11] Afterwards, she co-founded Hush Productions. [12] During her time at Nottingham, she participated in the TV war strategy game Time Commanders , helping her teammates fight in the Battle of Pharsalus.


Prior to her role in Jane Eyre , Wilson had one professional screen credit, in Suburban Shootout , a situation comedy she appeared in with Tom Hiddleston. [13] In 2006–2007, she filmed the second series of Suburban Shootout, a new Agatha Christie's Marple mystery (Nemesis) for ITV, and Stephen Poliakoff's BBC television drama Capturing Mary as the young Mary.

In 2007, Wilson appeared in Gorky's Philistines, playing Tanya, at the National from May until August. [14] In June, she presented the 2007 Lilian Baylis Awards. [15] Other projects in 2007 included a guest appearance in the sitcom Freezing as Alison Fennel (transmitted on BBC2, 21 February 2008); narration of the documentary The Polish Ambulance Murders (transmitted on BBC4, 5 February 2008); and the portrayal of a mentally ill doctor in the dramatised documentary The Doctor Who Hears Voices (transmitted on UK Channel 4, 21 April 2008). [16]

From 23 July to 3 October 2009, she appeared as Stella in the Donmar revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. [17] On 15 November 2009 AMC Television and ITV premiered the 2009 TV miniseries remake of The Prisoner , in which Wilson played the Village doctor, "Number 313." [18] She played "Queenie" in an adaptation of Andrea Levy's Small Island , which aired on BBC1 in December 2009 [19] and also aired in the United States on PBS in 2010.

Since 2010, she has appeared in the British psychological police drama Luther as Alice Morgan, a research scientist and highly intelligent individual described by Luther as a narcissist. In September 2012, the series' creator, Neil Cross, announced that he was in the process of creating a spin-off of Luther centred on Wilson's character, though as of 2018 this has not happened. Cross stated, "The BBC is very interested in the project. The only real question would be how many and how often we would do it – whether it would be a one-off miniseries or a returning miniseries, a co-production or not." [20] While Wilson could not appear in series four of Luther due to filming clashing with The Affair, [21] she returned for series five. [2]

From 4 August to 8 October 2011, Wilson starred in the title role of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Jude Law. Her performance prompted The Guardian to devote an editorial to Wilson's "courageous, edgy and compelling talent". [22]

In 2014, Wilson began starring as Alison Bailey on the drama television series The Affair , created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi. [23] [24] She won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in January 2015 for her performance in the series' first season. [25] She departed the series in 2018 after four seasons. [26] It was reported in December 2019 that Wilson's departure was due to "frustrations with the nudity required of her, friction with Treem over the direction of her character, and what she ultimately felt was a 'hostile work environment'". [27]

Wilson made her Broadway debut in Constellations , a play written by Nick Payne, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. [28] She starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal throughout the play's run from 12 January to 14 March 2015. [29] She received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play for her performance. [30]

Her film I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House , directed by Oz Perkins, premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. [31] From December 2016 to February 2017, Wilson starred in the title role of Hedda Gabler in a new version by Patrick Marber at the Royal National Theatre. The production, and Wilson's performance in particular, received critical acclaim. [32] [33]

In November 2018, Wilson starred as the title character Alison Wilson—her real-life grandmother—in the BBC drama Mrs Wilson . Alison Wilson was the third of four wives of former MI6 officer and novelist Alexander Wilson. They were married for 22 years. After his death in 1963, Alison discovered one other wife with whom she collaborated on the funeral. In order not to create extra shock for his children, the other wife and her children attended the funeral as 'distant relatives'. Alison died in 2005 without knowing he had two further wives. Ruth Wilson explains in a December 2018 Radio Times interview that the script for the series that showed Alison uncovering all of the wives was dramatised in order to reveal the full story during the series. She was also an executive producer for the series. [34]

In November 2020, it was announced that Wilson will star as Norwegian Diplomat Mona Juul in a Filmed version of Oslo, J.T. Rogers' Tony-Award Winning Play. Oslo will be Directed by Bartlett Sher, who also directed the Broadway production. [35] Oslo will be Executive Produced by Rogers, Sher, Marc Platt (La La Land), Kristie Macosko Krieger (The Post), Cambra Overend, and Steven Spielberg. [36]



2007Get Off My LandWoman Short film
2012 Anna Karenina Princess Betsy
2013 The Lone Ranger Rebecca Reid
Saving Mr. Banks Margaret Goff
2014 Locke Katrina (voice)
2015 Suite Française Madeleine
2016 I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House Lily
2017 How to Talk to Girls at Parties PT Stella
Dark River Alice
2018 The Little Stranger Caroline AryesAlso executive producer


2003 Time Commanders HerselfEpisode: "Pharsalus"
2006 Jane Eyre Jane Eyre 4 episodes
2006–07 Suburban Shootout Jewel Diamond10 episodes
2007 Agatha Christie's Marple Georgina BarrowEpisode: "Nemesis"
2007 Capturing Mary Young MaryTelevision film
2007A Real SummerMary / GeraldineTelevision film
2008 Freezing Alison FennelEpisode: "#1.2"
2008The Doctor Who Hears VoicesRuthTelevision film
2009 Small Island QueenieTelevision film
2009 The Prisoner Sara / 3136 episodes
2010–19 Luther Alice Morgan 13 episodes
2014–18 The Affair Alison Bailey33 episodes
2017 Reported Missing NarratorSeries 1, 3 episodes
2018 Mrs. Wilson Alison Wilson3 episodes
2019–present His Dark Materials Marisa Coulter Main role
TBA Oslo Mona Juul Television film


2005GoodSound Theatre
2007PhilistinesTanya Lyttelton Theatre / Royal National Theatre [37]
2009 A Streetcar Named Desire Stella Donmar Warehouse [38]
2010 Through a Glass Darkly Karin Almeida Theatre [39]
2011 Anna Christie Anna ChristieDonmar Warehouse
2013The El TrainMrs Rowland, Rose Hoxton Hall [40]
2015 Constellations Marianne Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
2016–2017 Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler Royal National Theatre [32]
2019 King Lear Cordelia / Fool Cort Theatre
2020 The Second Woman Virginia Young Vic Theatre [41]


2008 The Mayor of Casterbridge [42] Elizabeth-Jane BBC Radio 4
2009The Promise [43] Lika BBC Radio 3
2009 The Lady of the Camellias Marguerite GautierBBC Radio 4
2010Spitfire! [44] DaphneBBC Radio 4

Awards and nominations

2007 British Academy Television Award Best Actress Jane Eyre Nominated [45]
Broadcasting Press Guild Best ActressNominated [46]
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film Nominated [47]
Satellite Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated [48]
2010 Luther Nominated [49]
Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role A Streetcar Named Desire Won [50]
2012 Best Actress Anna Christie Won [51]
2014 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Television Series Drama The Affair Won [52]
2015 Satellite Award Best Actress in a Drama Series Nominated [53]
Tony Award Best Leading Actress in a Play Constellations Nominated [54]
Theatre World Award Honoree [55]
2017 Satellite Award Best Actress in a Drama Series The Affair Nominated [56]
British Independent Film Award Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film Dark RiverNominated [57]
Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Hedda Gabler Nominated [58]
2019 British Academy Television Award Best Actress in a Leading Role Mrs Wilson Nominated [59]
Best Mini-SeriesNominated [59]
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance King Lear Nominated [60]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Nominated [61]
Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Nominated [62]

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