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Rose Leslie Biography – An Insight into her Career

Real Name: Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie
Profession: Actress
Birthplace: Aberdeen, Scotland
Alma mater: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Spouse(s): Kit Harington ​(m. 2018)

Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie (born 9 February 1987) is a Scottish actress. She is known for her roles as Gwen Dawson in the ITV drama series Downton Abbey and Ygritte in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, as well as playing Maia Rindell in three seasons of the CBS All Access legal and political drama The Good Fight and starring as Clare Abshire in HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Rose Eleanor Arbuthnot-Leslie Biography
Born 9 February 1987 (age 37)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Years active 2005–present
Alma mater London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Spouse(s) Kit Harington ​(m. 2018)
Children 2

Early life and ancestry

Leslie was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and raised at Lickleyhead Castle in Aberdeenshire, her family’s 15th-century ancestral seat, where she lived until the age of 10. Her father, Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie, is the Chieftain of the Aberdeenshire branch of the Scottish Clan Leslie. Her mother is Candida Mary Sibyl “Candy” Leslie (née Weld) of Clan Fraser of Lovat, whose maternal great-grandfather was Simon Fraser, 13th Lord Lovat and a descendant of King Charles II. Through her mother, Leslie is a great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Weld, the sixth prime minister of New Zealand and, through her father, she is a great-great-granddaughter of Don Guillermo Landa y Escandón, who served as governor of Mexico City. Leslie’s ancestors include Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps De Lisle, politician Charles March-Phillipps and MP James Grimston, 3rd Earl of Verulam. Her family currently lives at the 12th-century Wardhill Castle in Old Rayne.

She was first educated at Rayne North School in Aberdeenshire. At 10, she went to Ermitage International School in Maisons-Laffitte, France, where her family lived for 3 years. Upon their return to the UK, from 2000 to 2005, she was sent to Millfield, a boarding school in Street, Somerset, before spending three years at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She won a BASSC certificate in stage combat and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 2008.


Leslie worked for BBC Radio narrating The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People.

Her leading on screen debut came at age 21 in the television film New Town (2009), for which she won the Scottish BAFTA for Best Acting Performance – New Talent Award.

In September and October 2010, she became the lead in Nell Leyshon’s play Bedlam at the Globe Theatre. Based on the Bethlem Royal Hospital, representative of the worst excesses of asylums in the era of lunacy reform, Leslie portrayed May, a beautiful country girl driven mad by lost love. The Daily Telegraphs Charles Spencer praised her performance, commenting, “Leslie proves genuinely poignant.” Her break-through role came as Gwen Dawson, a housemaid, in the first series (2010–11) of the ITV television drama Downton Abbey. In 2011, while on Downton Abbey, Leslie briefly appeared in two episodes of the British drama series Case Histories.

In 2012, she was cast in seasons two, three and four of the popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones as the wildling Ygritte. The A.V. Clubs Rowan Kaiser stated: “As Ygritte, [Rose] is both dangerous and flirtatious, and it’s fun to watch.” Den of Geek‘s David Crow exclaimed, “A complicated character […] Rose Leslie devours the screen.” In 2013, Vox.com‘s Emily VanDerWerff (under The A.V. Club) review for “The Climb” episode, “(In the books) Ygritte is a means to an end… (but) on screen, as embodied by Rose Leslie, she becomes something more,” whilst The Atlantics Christopher Orr summed up her portrayal in the 2014 episode “The Watchers of the Wall” by concluding: “Rose Leslie has been one of a handful of performers on the show who’ve really elevated their characters above what they were in the books.”

While on Game of Thrones, Leslie appeared in the 2012 drama film Now Is Good and in episodes of ITV detective television series Vera, Channel 4 conspiracy drama Utopia and BBC One’s comedy series Blandings.

From October to November 2014, she appeared in the four-part mini-series The Great Fire. She then starred in the horror film Honeymoon. She has since played DS Emma Lane in the BBC detective drama Luther with positive response and starred in the 2015 action adventure/fantasy film The Last Witch Hunter.

She and David Tennant recorded an audiobook version of Carmilla in 2015. In 2016, she portrayed the character of Athena in Sticky Notes.

In 2016, Leslie was cast in The Good Fight, a CBS All Access legal drama and spin off of The Good Wife. She plays Maia Rindell, a young lawyer who just passed the bar exam and whose family is involved in a financial scam, destroying her reputation. The first episode aired in February 2017. In July 2019, it was revealed that Leslie would not return for the show’s fourth season.

In 2017 Leslie provided the voice for the female protagonist “En” in the video game Echo, a game by Copenhagen-based game developer Ultra Ultra.

In October 2019 Leslie was cast as Louise Bourget in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel Death on The Nile. The film was released on 11 February 2022.

In January 2020, Leslie joined the cast of BBC’s and World Productions’s drama series Vigil, which premiered in 2021.

In February 2021, Leslie was cast in HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife TV series based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, starring as Clare Abshire alongside Theo James as Henry DeTamble.

Personal life

Leslie became fluent in French while living with her family in France during her pre-adolescent years. While working as an actress, she lived in Battersea, London, until moving to north London. She often refers to missing Aberdeen, saying “I feel very much at peace in Scotland.”

In 2011, Leslie began dating Kit Harington, who played her love interest, Jon Snow, in Game of Thrones. They married on 23 June 2018. In September 2020, Leslie posed for a magazine photo shoot visibly pregnant. Their son was born in January 2021. In February 2023, Harington announced that they were expecting their second child. In July 2023, the couple confirmed the birth of their daughter.

Politics and other interests

Leslie supported Scotland remaining as part of the United Kingdom during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign. At the 2015 UK general election, she campaigned with the Conservatives in her local constituency of Gordon.

She sees herself as a runner and enjoys rock climbing, cooking, skiing, archery, and tennis.

She is a patron of the charity Firefly International.



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2012 Now Is Good Fiona
2014 Honeymoon Bea
2015 The Last Witch Hunter Chloe
2016 The Backup Dancer Athena US title: Sticky Notes
2016 Morgan Amy Menser
2022 Death on the Nile Louise


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2008 Banged Up Abroad Kim Episode: “Lima”
2009 New Town Rhian Television film
2010, 2015 Downton Abbey Gwen Dawson Main role (season 1); guest role (season 6)
2011 Case Histories Laura Wyre 2 episodes
2012 Vera Lena Holgate Episode: “The Ghost Position”
2012–2014 Game of Thrones Ygritte Recurring role (season 2); main role (seasons 3–4)
2014 Blandings Niagra Donaldson Episode: “Custody of the Pumpkin”
2014 Utopia Young Milner Episode #2.1
2014 The Great Fire Sarah Farriner 4 episodes
2015 Luther Emma Lane Series 4
2016 Revolting Rhymes Red Riding Hood (voice) 2 episodes
2017–2019 The Good Fight Maia Rindell Main role (seasons 1–3)
2019 Saturday Night Live Herself Episode: “Kit Harington / Sara Bareilles”
2021-2023 Vigil Kirsten Longacre Main role (seasons 1–2)
2022 The Time Traveler’s Wife Clare Main role
TBA Miss Austen TBA In-production

Video game

Year Title Role Ref.
2017 Echo En


Year Title Venue / touring theatre Director Ref
2005–2015 Mixed Up North Touring
Wilton’s Music Hall
Octagon Theatre
Max Stafford-Clark
Romeo and Juliet Love and Madness Company John Link
Can-Can LAMDA Anne Durham
Pericles Rodney Cottier
The Learned Ladies Jenny Lipman
The Caucasian Chalk Circle Touring
Out of Joint Theatre Company
MacOwan Theatre
John Baxter
Breaking Barriers in Burnley Out of Joint Theatre Company Robin Soans & Clark
Uncle Vanya LAMDA Colin Cook
Antigone Mark Bell kings
The Children’s Monologues Royal Court Theatre Danny Boyle
Bedlam Globe Theatre Nell Leyshon

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2009 British Academy Scotland New Talent Awards Best Acting Performance New Town Won
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
(shared with the cast)
Game of Thrones Nominated

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