Kelly Macdonald — things you didn't know about the Line of Duty and Harry Potter star

Kelly Macdonald on the red carpet.
Kelly Macdonald appears in Line of Duty Series 6. (Image credit: Getty)

Kelly Macdonald doesn't think of herself as an acting superstar, but with so many screen credentials under her belt, that is exactly what she is. 

The star has appeared in blockbusters like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Trainspotting, Trainspotting sequel T2, Gosford Park, Brave, Finding Neverland, No Country for Old Men, Nanny McPhee, Holmes & Watson, The Girl in the Cafe and Goodbye Christopher Robin — to name but a few! 

HBO drama Boardwalk Empire made Kelly a household name in the US, after she appeared as Margaret Thompson in all five series and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011. 

In the UK Kelly has appeared in BBC series The Victim alongside John Hannah, Black Mirror and Truth Seekers. It was announced back in November 2020 that Kelly had joined the cast for Line of Duty Season 6 as Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson. 

But what else is there to learn about the actress? Here are a few things you might not know.

1. She had her first big break with Trainspotting in 1996

More than 20 years ago Kelly was working in a bar when she saw a leaflet for open auditions being held for Trainspotting. She had never been to drama school, but that didn't stop her going along and landing the role of Diane. Kelly hasn't looked back since and the now iconic film changed her life overnight. 

She told The Independent: "Back then I could never have envisaged where I am now. I felt like it was a series of coincidences and luck that I ended up getting the part in Trainspotting, but it has been an incredible journey since then. Every now and then I sit and really think about it, and it blows my mind."

Kelly Macdonald and Ewan McGregor attend the World Premiere of T2 Trainspotting

Kelly starred in Trainspotting and the sequel T2 alongside Ewan McGregor.  (Image credit: Getty)

2. She lived in New York for five years 

Despite Glasgow being her home town, Kelly lived in Manhattan for five years while she was filming Boardwalk Empire in New York. She told The Independent: "I love this city, I have really embraced my New York years. I adore the fact that when I'm driving home from work, as soon as I hit my neighbourhood, I see people I know. 

However, Kelly has since returned to Scotland and now lives there with her children. She continued: "We live in a lovely part of Glasgow that has a lot of cultural significance. The buildings are alive with history and learning. It is a very inspiring place to be."

3. She was the last ever person to be cast in the Harry Potter franchise

Kelly appeared in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which is the final instalment of the film adaptations of the J.K Rowling books. Kelly's character, Helena Ravenclaw - also known as The Grey Lady — was the last to be cast, and in the films she helps Harry in his quest to defeat Dark Lord, Voldemort. 

She told us she particularly fond of her character in the film... "It's always a thrill when I go into the Harry Potter shop and see the navy and grey scarves. I think 'That's my house!' I don't support any sports teams, so that's as close as I get. Team Ravenclaw!"

4. Her sons love her job 

There aren't many kids who can say their mum is a famous film star, but Kelly's boys Freddie and Theodore can. She told The Guardian: "One day on Giri/Haji I was waving a gun around nonstop and went home with an aching arm. I said to them: 'I bet not many mummies come home complaining of a sore gun arm!'"

5. She has a theatre named in her honour

Kelly was born in Glasgow and moved to Aberdeen when she was just five years old. She later attended Eastwood High School and the teachers are so proud of their former student that they named a drama studio and a theatre in her honour. 

6. She has a special shelf for all her awards

Over the years Kelly has earned herself a very impressive collection of awards including an Emmy and several Screen Actors Guild awards. She told The Guardian that she keeps them out of harms way on a very high shelf in her sitting room... "I noticed recently that the inscription on one of the SAG awards for Boardwalk Empire is wrong. It's supposed to be for ensemble in a drama series, but it says comedy series. I got in touch with my castmates but theirs were all correct. Maybe they were trying to tell me something!"

Kelly Macdonald Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for "The Girl in the Cafe" during The 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Kelly receives her Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for The Girl in the Cafe in 2006. (Image credit: Getty)

Kelly Macdonald's fact file 

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the actress.

How old is she?

Kelly Macdonald is 45, she was born on February 23rd, 1976.

Is she married? 

Kelly Macdonald split from husband Dougie Payne, the bassist of Travis, in 2017. 

Does she have children?

Kelly Macdonald has two children with ex husband Dougie called Freddie and Theodore. 

Where was she born?

Kelly Macdonald was born in Glasgow. 

How tall is she?

Kelly Macdonald is 5.2 ft tall.

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.