Michelle Fairley

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Michelle Fairley
Michelle Fairley (2012 snapshot).jpg
Michelle Fairley in September 2012
Born (1964-01-17) 17 January 1964 (age 50)
Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Occupation Actress
Years active 1987–present

Michelle Fairley (born 17 January 1964) is a Northern Irish actress, best known for her roles as Catelyn Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones, Dr. Ava Hessington in multiple episodes of USA Network series Suits, and as terrorist Margot Al-Harazi, the main antagonist in 24: Live Another Day.

Early life[edit]

Fairley was born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland to locally renowned publicans Theresa and Brian Fairley. She attended a Roman Catholic grammar school. As a teenager, she became a member of the Ulster Youth Theatre, where she fell in love with acting and Michael Doherty. Upon graduation, she moved to Belfast where she honed her skills with the repertory company Fringe Benefits, alongside a fellow alumnus of the Ulster Youth Theatre, Conleth Hill.[1]


She appeared in a range of British television shows, including The Bill, Holby City and Heartbeat. Some of her earlier roles were as Cathy Michaels on ITV1's Inspector Morse in the episode titled "The Way Through The Woods" and as Nancy Phelan in Lovejoy in the episode 9 of Season 3 titled "Smoke Your Nose".

She took over the role of Mrs. Granger from Heather Bleasdale (who had played Mrs. Granger in Chamber of Secrets) in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows films. On 19 March 2010, it was announced that she would play the role of Catelyn Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones replacing Jennifer Ehle who played the character in the original pilot episode.[2]

On 4 June 2013, E! news confirmed that she had joined the cast of the USA Network series Suits for its third season. Fairley plays the recurring role of Ava Hessington.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Fairley is a huge supporter of her native Northern Ireland, and has contributed to The Northern Ireland Tourist Board's 2014 summer campaign that emphasises Northern Ireland as a perfect destination, commenting that: “I am absolutely delighted to be involved with the campaign for Northern Ireland as the North Coast is where I grew up. It is full of wonderful memories, people, places and beautiful scenery. It is in my opinion one of the most stunning coast lines in the world. Once seen, never forgotten.”[4]

Stage credits[edit]

Year Play Role Notes
1993 Oleanna (Royal Court Theatre) Carol
2000 The Weir Valerie
2003 Scenes From The Big Picture (on Broadway) Helan
Loyal Women, Neverland (Royal Court Theatre) Brenda
2004 Ashes To Ashes Pinter (Lyric Theatre)
2006 The Wild Duck (Donmar Warehouse) Gina
Gates Of Gold (Trafalgar Studios) Alma
2007 Othello (Donmar Warehouse) Emilia Olivier Award Nomination
Macbeth Lady Macbeth
2009 Dancing at Lughnasa (Old Vic) Kate
2010 Greta Garbo Came to Donegal Paulie Hennessy


Year Film Role Notes
1987 Hidden City Cleaner
1989 Saracen Maeve Episode "Starcross"
1990 4 Play Maureen Episode "Valentine Falls"
Hidden Agenda Teresa Doyle
Theatre Night Episode "Pentecost"
1991 Casualty Kathy Emerick Episode "Judgement Day"
Children of the North Kate
1992 Screen Two Sharon Episode "Flea Bites"
Lovejoy Nancy Phelan Episode "Smoke Your Nose"
Screenplay Jenny Episode "Force of Duty"
1993 Screen Two Fiona Gibbons Episode "The Long Roads"
Casualty Kate Maguire Episode "No Place to Hide'
Comics Nula O'Reilly
1994 Cardiac Arrest Casualty Sister Karen Teller Episode "Doctors and Nurses"
1995 Life After Life Roisin Donaghy TV movie
The Bill Beth Spence Episode "No Choice"
Inspector Morse Cathy Michaels Episode "The Way Through the Woods"
1996 A Mug's Game Kathy Cowan
Safe and Sound Eleanor Delaney 6 episodes
The Precious Bride Jean McBride TV movie
1997 The Broker's Man Gabby Rodwell 6 Episodes
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling Mrs. Fitzpatrick Episodes #1.2-1.5
1998 A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries Miss O'Shaunessy
Hideous Kinky Patricia Known as Marrakech Express in France
1999 Births, Marriages and Death Pat Episodes #1.1-1.4
Vicious Circle Frances TV movie
2000 McCready and Daughter Bernadette TV movie
The Second Death Aisling Short
2001 In Deep Eva/Phoebe Episode "Blue on Blue"
The Others Mrs. Marlish Also known as Les autres (France) and Los otros (Spain)
Byw yn dy Groen (Living in your Skin) Gina Welsh language film, set primarily in Pembrokeshire
Rebus Janice Mee Episodes "Dead Souls" and "Mortal Causes"
2002 Shearing Yvonne 2002 Cannes Film Festival premiere (directed by Eicke Bettinga)
2003 Holby City Heidi Drury Episode "Keep it in the Family"
The Clinic Shirley Episode #1.6
2005 Ahead of the Class Sonia Venning TV movie
The Golden Hour Julia Harper Episode #1.4
2006 The Catherine Tate Show: Series 3 Rosemary Sketch character about a Northern Irish mother with a gay son
2007 Trial and Retribution Mrs. Jenkins Episode "Mirror Image: Part 1"
The Street Paul's mom Episode "The Promise"
2009 A Short Stay in Switzerland Mrs. Savery TV Movie
Lark Rise to Candleford Mrs. Lizbeth Patterson Episode #2.10
Suicide Man Woman on cliff short
Best: His Mother's Son Ann Best
Taggart Joan Revie Episode "So Long Baby"
Misfits Louise Young Episodes #1.1 and #1.2
2010 Cup Cake Annie McNabb
Anton Chekhov's The Duel Marya
Chatroom Rosie
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Mrs. Granger
Midsomer Murders Iris Holman Episode "The Noble Art"
2011 Silent Witness DI Suzy Harte Episode "First Casualty"
2011–2013 Game of Thrones Lady Catelyn Stark 25 episodes
Irish Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Show
Scream Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
2012 Coming Up Jen Episode "Colour"
2013 The Invisible Woman Caroline Graves
Montana Jones Post-production
Suits Dr. Ava Hessington Season 3 Recurring Character
Philomena Sally Mitchell
2014 Ironclad: Battle for Blood Joan De Vesci Post-production
24: Live Another Day Margot Al-Harazi 8 episodes
Common Shelagh TV Movie with Michael Gambon and Daniel Mays
Resurrection Margaret Langston
2015 In the Heart of the Sea Mrs Nickerson Post-production


  1. ^ Grimm, Matthew (2014). "Cast Archive - Michelle Fairley". Cineplex Entertainment. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Showbiz people briefs". Reuters. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Bricker, Tierney (4 June 2013). "Game of Thrones Star Michelle Fairley Joins Suits, Maisie Williams Posts Reaction to Red Wedding Deaths". E! Online UK. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Sherrard, Chris (4 June 2014). "Game Of Thrones star gets behind Northern Ireland Tourist Board campaign". Daily Mirror (London: Trinity Mirror). ISSN 9975-9950. OCLC 223228477. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 

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