Carey Mulligan met her future husband when she was 12. Then they fell out of touch.

Growing up, Carey Mulligan was, in her own words, a typical "goody-goody".

She was the model pupil. Hard-working, high-achieving and obedient.

After attending Woldingham School in the English countryside, it was expected that Mulligan would attend university. But at 17 years old, Carey Mulligan did something she had never done before. She asserted herself. Now, at 38 years old with three Oscar nominations under her belt, it's clear being brave more than two decades ago paid off. 

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Video via Focus Features.

Instead of applying for university, as her parents expected, Mulligan applied to three London drama schools. "My parents were completely against it," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "They wanted me to go to a university. They didn't know any actors; no one in my family was an actor. They were scared."

In the end, Mulligan was rejected from all three acting schools. But her determination didn't waver. That same year, Mulligan received words of encouragement from actor Kenneth Branagh after she wrote him a fan letter.


"I explained that my parents didn't want me to act, but that I felt it was my vocation in life," she said, according to The Telegraph.

Branagh's sister replied: "Kenneth says that if you feel such a strong need to be an actress, you must be an actress."

Months later, Mulligan sent a letter to Julian Fellowes after the screenwriter urged Mulligan to "marry a lawyer" instead of pursuing acting.

Carey Mulligan in Pride and Prejudice. Image: Focus Features.


That letter would ultimately lead to Carey Mulligan's first film role.

"I didn't know anyone who was an actor. He was the one person I'd ever met who was an actor, so I sent him a letter," Mulligan told People"He ended up introducing me to the assistant to the casting director on Pride and Prejudice. And somehow, miraculously, I got the job," she continued.

"It was just a crazy twist of fate."

Five years later, Mulligan, then 24, had her first big breakthrough in An Education.

The 2009 film received rave reviews, and Mulligan was nominated for an Academy Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Golden Globe, and a Critics Choice Award.

At the time, Mulligan struggled with her growing fame.

"I took it all way too seriously when I was younger because I didn't know any different. It all happened so quickly," she told PorterEdit. "I went to the premiere of Pride and Prejudice but there were 12 of us and no one took my photo on my own. Then An Education happened and suddenly it was awards season in LA, and I honestly had no idea what was going on," she added.

"I was completely freaked out and so paranoid about everything, people judging me or saying [things] about me. It's a shame, because it should've been really fun and it wasn't."


Due to her early experiences in the industry, Mulligan has long been intensely picky about her roles, often taking years off between projects. "My agent said to me a couple of years ago, 'You should only take the jobs that you can't bear the idea of anyone else taking'," she explained.

"If I read and think, 'Well I wouldn't be devastated to see this in the cinema with somebody else doing it,' then I wouldn't do it."

As her career has skyrocketed, Mulligan has become well known for keeping her personal life intensely private. In fact, the actor doesn't maintain a social media presence.

"As an actor, your goal is to be private," she told Variety. "There is a weird double standard: your goal is to disappear in a role, and not necessarily let the audience know every detail about you."

Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin and Carey Mulligan at an event for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Image: Getty.


In 2009, Mulligan began dating Shia LaBeouf after meeting the actor on the set of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. At the time, LaBeouf told GQ that the couple wanted to keep their relationship private.

"I never had anything in my life that was off-limits. But with this, just out of respect, I just don’t want to f**k around," he said, adding, "Neither one of us are fame whores. It works out!"

The couple separated in 2010 after dating for a year.

In a later interview with The Sunday TimesLaBeouf explained that their relationship came to an end as Mulligan wanted to settle down. "She's happy as hell right now, and we wouldn't have been able to make it like that. She was chasing marriage, family, kids more than I was," he said.

In 2011, Mulligan began dating Mumford and Sons lead singer Marcus Mumford. However, the couple had actually met years beforehand.

Marcus Mumford and Carey Mulligan arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Image: Getty.


When Mulligan was 12 years old, the pair met while attending a Christian church camp. They continued to stay in touch as pen pals for a while afterwards, before eventually losing touch.

"I wrote in my diary that he was the nicest, the kindest person I'd ever met, and I gave him nine-and-a-half out of 10," she shared during an interview on the SmartLess podcast. "I also wrote that he definitely wasn't boyfriend material. Not that I'd ever had a boyfriend at that time, but I decided that he was not it."


Mulligan and Mumford eventually reconnected on Facebook.

"Then the internet happened and we — God, the internet happened — and we started [reconnecting]," she said. "We were both on Facebook for like six months... so we touched base there briefly. Then we met again when I was like 24."

Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford at the 2024 Oscars. Image: Getty.


The pair were married in April 2012, and now have three children together: daughter Evelyn Grace, born in 2015, son Wilfred, born in 2017, and another daughter, whose name is unknown, born in 2023.

After the birth of her first two children, Mulligan some took time off from acting.

"I didn't go to drama school, I kind of felt like a chancer, so I figured that I had to do loads of homework so that I was allowed to be here," she told Harper's Bazaar in February 2021.

"The reality of my life now is that I have two kids under the age of five, and I'm lucky if I can learn my lines and show up."

In the last decade, Mulligan has appeared in the likes of The Great Gatsby, Inside Llewyn Davis, Suffragette and Promising Young Woman, to name just a few. More recently, she appeared in Saltburn alongside Jacob Elordi, Barry Keoghan and Rosamund Pike. And her role in the 2023 film Maestro earned Mulligan her third Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Though she didn't win, Mulligan's husband paid homage to both his wife and another Oscar nominee on TikTok. The Grammy-winning artist carried his wife through the hallways as the nominated song 'I'm Just Ken', performed by Barbie nominee Ryan Gosling, played in the background. 


♬ I'm Just Ken (In My Feelings Acoustic) - Ryan Gosling & Mark Ronson

Mulligan last made waves for her leading role in Promising Young Womana 2020 film that explores consent and rape culture, and was directed by Emerald Fennell. She went on to receive five nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, and the film won Best Original Screenplay — but it didn't come without its criticism.


Critic Dennis Harvey questioned Mulligan's casting and if she was attractive enough for the main role. 

"Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale — Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on," the viral Variety review from 2020 read.

Speaking to The New York Times in December 2020, Mulligan shared that she had read the review.

"It's important to call out those things, because they seem small and they seem insignificant," Mulligan explained. "People around me at the time said, 'Oh, get over it. People love the film.' But it stuck with me, because I think it's these kind of everyday moments that add up."

This post was originally published on February 2, 2021, and updated with new information on March 17, 2024.

Feature Image: Getty/TikTok @marcusmumford.

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