Michelle Fairley

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Michelle Fairley
Michelle Fairley (2012 snapshot).jpg
Fairley in 2012
Bornc. 1964–1965 (age 57–59)
Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Years active1986–present

Michelle Fairley (born c. 1964–1965)[a] is an actress from Northern Ireland. She is best known for playing Catelyn Stark in the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–2013). She has since appeared in the USA Network series Suits (2013), the Fox series 24: Live Another Day (2014),[3] the science fiction series The Feed (2019), and the Sky Atlantic crime drama Gangs of London (2020–).

Early life[edit]

Fairley was born in Coleraine to parents Brian and Teresa Fairley, the second eldest of six children. Her father was a popular publican, owner of Fairley's Bar and several off-licences, in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, but Fairley remembers both Catholics and Protestants frequenting the pub.[4][5]


Fairley appeared in a number of British television shows, including The Bill, Holby City and Casualty. 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".[6]

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. From 2011 to 2013, Fairley starred as Catelyn Stark (née Tully) in the first three seasons of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, replacing Jennifer Ehle who played the character in the original pilot episode.[7]

Fairley joined the cast of the USA Network series Suits for its third season, playing the recurring role of Ava Hessington.[8] She played Margot Al-Harazi in 24: Live Another Day on Fox. Her film roles included The Invisible Woman (2013) and In the Heart of the Sea (2015).

In 2017, it was announced Fairley would appear in a revival of Jim Cartwright's play Road at the Royal Court Theatre[9] In 2018, she played Cassius in Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre, alongside David Calder, David Morrissey and Ben Whishaw.[10] In 2019, Fairley led the Virgin Media and Amazon Prime science fiction series The Feed as Meredith Hatfield. As of June 2020, Fairley stars as Marian Wallace in the Sky Atlantic crime drama Gangs of London.[11] She starred as Millie in the 2021 film Nobody Has To Know alongside Bouli Lanners.[12] Fairley has an upcoming role as Princess Augusta in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix.

Personal life[edit]

Fairley has been based in London since 1986, and keeps a low public profile. She said in an interview with The Telegraph in 2015, that she made the decision to separate from her boyfriend of seven years in 2012. Since then, Fairley has had no known partners. Fairley said, in the same interview, that she "missed the gene" for motherhood. She never had the desire to have children like some of her siblings did.[13]

While Fairley has worked on various American projects in the past, she has no love for Hollywood, and the West End theatres remain her home.[14] She said that television and movies challenge her in a different way and make her "use a different muscle," but theatre is where she feels her best work is done, where she started her career, and where she hopes to "end up".[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Hidden Agenda Teresa Doyle
1998 A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries Miss O'Shaunessy
Suffering Patricia
2000 The Second Death Aisling Short film
2001 The Others Mrs. Marlish
2002 Shearing Yvonne Short film
2010 Cup Cake Annie McNabb
The Duel Marya
Chatroom Rosie
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Mrs. Granger
2013 The Invisible Woman Caroline Graves
Philomena Sally Mitchell
Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart Brigitte Helm Voice only
2014 Ironclad: Battle for Blood Joan De Vesci
Montana DCI Rachel Jones
I Am Here Mother Short film
Common Shelagh TV movie
2015 In the Heart of the Sea Mrs. Nickerson
2016 Edith Shelia Short film
2019 The Trap Michelle Short film
Responsible Child Kerry TV movie


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Saracen Maeve Episode: "Starcross"
1990 4 Play Maureen Episode: "Valentine Falls"
Theatre Night Ruth Episode: "Pentecost"
1991 Children of the North Kate Episodes: "The Killing of Yesterday's Children", "City of Maloch"
Casualty Kathy Emerick Episode: "Judgement Day"
1992 Lovejoy Nancy Phelan Episode: "Smoke Your Nose"
Screenplay Jenny Episode: "Force of Duty"
Screen Two Sharon Episode: "Flea Bites"
1993 Fiona Gibbons Episode: "The Long Roads"
Casualty Kate Maguire Episode: "No Place to Hide"
Comics Nula O'Reilly TV film
1994 Cardiac Arrest Karen Teller Episodes: "You Can't Make an Omelette Without Breaking Legs", "The Edge"
1995 Life After Life Roisin Donaghy TV film
The Bill Beth Spence Episode: "No Choice"
Inspector Morse Cathy Michaels Episode: "The Way Through the Woods"
1996 A Mug's Game Kathy Cowan TV film
Safe and Sound Eleanor Delaney Main role (6 episodes)
The Precious Blood Jean McBride TV film
1997 The Broker's Man Gabby Rodwell Main role (6 episodes)
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling Mrs. Harriet Fitzpatrick TV miniseries
1999 Births, Marriages and Deaths Pat Main role (4 episodes)
Vicious Circle Frances TV film
2000 McCready and Daughter Bernadette TV film
2001 In Deep Eva / Phoebe Episodes: "Blue on Blue: Parts 1 & 2"
Rebus Janice Mee Episodes: "Dead Souls", "Mortal Causes"
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 film
The Golden Hour Julia Harper Episode: "1.4"
2006 The Catherine Tate Show Rosemary Episode: "Mum, I'm Gay"
Strictly Confidential Carol Machin Episode: "1.2"
2007 Trial & Retribution Mrs. Jenkins Episode: "Mirror Image: Part 1"
2009 A Short Stay in Switzerland Mrs. Savery TV film
Lark Rise to Candleford Mrs. Elizabeth Patterson Episode: "2.10"
Best: His Mother's Son Ann Best TV film
Taggart Joan Revie Episode: "So Long Baby"
Misfits Louise Young Episodes: "1.1", "1.2"
2010 Midsomer Murders Iris Holman Episode: "The Noble Art"
2011 Silent Witness DI Suzy Harte Episodes: "First Casualty: Parts 1 & 2"
2011–2013 Game of Thrones Catelyn Stark Main role; 25 episodes (seasons 1–3)
2012 Coming Up Jen Episode: "Colour"
2013 Suits Ava Hessington Recurring role (8 episodes)
2014 24: Live Another Day Margot Al-Harazi Recurring role (8 episodes)
Common Shelagh TV film
Resurrection: A Second Chance Margaret Langston
2014–2015 Resurrection Margaret Langston Recurring role (13 episodes)
2015 The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Aideen Trotwood Episode: "Capsize"
Crossing Lines Sophie Baines Recurring role (Season 3)
2016 Rebellion Dolly Butler Season 1
2017 Fortitude Freya Lennox Recurring role (Season 2)
The White Princess Margaret Beaufort Main Role
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Queen Igneous (voice) Episode: "Rockullan, Papyron, Scissorian"
2019 The Feed Meredith Hatfield Main role (10 episodes)
2020 Gangs of London Marian Wallace Main role (8 episodes)


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Oleanna Carol Royal Court Theatre
1998 Never Land Elisabeth Royal Court Theatre
1999 The Weir Valerie Walter Kerr Theatre
2003 Scenes from the Big Picture Helen Woods National Theatre
Loyal Women Brenda Royal Court Theatre
2004 Ashes to Ashes Rebecca Lyric Theatre
2006 The Wild Duck Gina Donmar Warehouse
Gates of Gold Alma Trafalgar Studios
2007 Othello Emilia Donmar Warehouse
Macbeth Lady Macbeth West Yorkshire Playhouse
2009 Dancing at Lughnasa Kate Old Vic
2010 Greta Garbo Came to Donegal Paulie Hennessy Tricycle Theatre
2011 Remembrance Day Sveta Royal Court Theatre
2015 Splendour Genevieve Donmar Warehouse
2017 Road Helen/Marion/Brenda Royal Court Theatre
2018 Julius Caesar Cassius Bridge Theatre

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2008 Oliver Awards Best Performance in a Supporting Role Nominated
2011 Irish Film & Television Award Best Actress - Television Game of Thrones Nominated
Scream Award Best Ensemble Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2013 Irish Film & Television Award Best Actress - Television Won
Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress on Television Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2016 Irish Film & Television Award Best Supporting Actress - Television Nominated
2019 Clarence Derwent Award Best Female in a Supporting Role Won
WhatsOnStage Award Best Supporting Actress in a Play Nominated


  1. ^ Sources vary regarding Fairley's date of birth. Some list a birthdate of 11 July 1965,[1] while others state 17 January 1964.[2]


  1. ^ "Michelle Fairley Biography". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 7 October 2022. Retrieved 6 October 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "Michelle Fairley". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 7 October 2022.
  3. ^ "Michelle Fairley". IMDb. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Game of Thrones star in mourning as she prepares to lay father to rest in Coleraine". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Game of Thrones star Michelle Fairley in mourning after mum dies in Coleraine". belfasttelegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Michelle Fairley". IMDb. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Showbiz people briefs". Reuters. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Royal Court Theatre announces cast for Jim Cartwright's play Road". British Theatre. 25 June 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Game of Thrones actress to appear in Julius Caesar at Bridge Theatre". BBC News. 19 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Gangs of London the new TV Series | Sky.com". www.sky.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  12. ^ "Nobody Has To Know". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  13. ^ Davies, Serena (25 July 2015). "Michelle Fairley interview: 'Hollywood? I hate everything about it'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  14. ^ "GoT's Michelle Fairley goes back to theatre". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Michelle Fairley: "Theatre's where I do my best work"". www.theatre.london. Retrieved 8 June 2020.

External links[edit]