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Laura Carmichael Biography

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Birth Name: Laura Carmichael
Born: 1986
Birth Place: Hampton, England, GB

Born in Hampton, the largest city in the county of Hampshire, England, in 1986, Laura Carmichael was the daughter of software developer Andrew Carmichael, and his wife, Sarah, a radiologist. She was also distantly related to veteran character actor Ian Carmichael, who appeared in such British comedies as "Private's Progress" (1956) and "I'm All Right, Jack" (1959), while a great-grandfather was World War I flying ace and aviation pioneer Norman Blackburn. Carmichael's association with acting began when she was enlisted to play female roles in school productions at the all-boys' Winchester College. She continued to pursue acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, but initially struggled to find roles after graduation in 2007, save for bit roles in TV productions like the documentary "The Heart of Thomas Hardy" (BBC One, 2008).

While working as a receptionist at a doctor's office, Carmichael landed the role of Lady Edith Crawley on "Downton Abbey." The second of three daughters by Lord and Lady Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern), Lady Edith suffered from the classic middle child syndrome; she lacked the ethereal beauty of her elder sister, Mary (Michelle Dockery), and the spirit of the youngest sister, Sybil, (Jessica Brown Findlay) which frequently excluded her from the attentions of her parents and relatives. Her competition with Mary often verged on the malicious, as evidenced by her elder sister's interference in her relationship with Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst). This relationship was briefly revived before he left her at the altar, leaving her devastated. But in typical fashion, Edith rallied herself by writing for a local newspaper in the show's third season. The success of "Downton" boosted Carmichael to worldwide fame, which she parlayed into a small role in the 2011 film version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." The following year, she co-starred with Anna Friel and Ken Stott in a production of "Uncle Vanya," which marked her debut in London's West End.

By Paul Gaita