Claire Foy is a British actress, best known for playing the title role in the BBC’s big-budget costume drama Little Dorrit (2008), Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall and Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s The Crown.
Foy was born on 16th April 1984 in Stockport, England. She grew up in Manchester and Leeds. She is half-Irish (on her mother’s side) and the youngest of three children. Her father, David, is a sales director and her mother, Caroline, works for a pharmaceutical company. When she was eight her parents divorced and she moved to Buckinghamshire with her mother, her brother Robert and her sister Gemma.
In an interview, Foy has said “I was always an attention seeker, I used to put on shows at home and rope in cousins.”
“When I was a little girl, I trained as a ballet dancer…. Then, when I was 13 I developed juvenile arthritis… [and] began thinking about acting, although I never really thought I could do it…. At school, Foy did a couple of shows. “But I was never the prettiest or the most talented girl. It was always an uphill struggle. I loved drama, but somehow I just thought everyone else was better than me. Then when I went to university, I realised you’ve just got to have the guts to go for it.”
Foy went to Aylesbury High School, a girls’ grammar school, from the age of twelve; she then attended Liverpool John Moores University, studying drama and screen studies. She also trained in a one year course at the Oxford School of Drama, graduating in 2007.
Her student years were fun but financially hard and involved her taking ‘lots of menial jobs’ to help pay her way through university. She is incredibly close to her family, describing her mother as ‘the most wonderful woman in the world’ and her father, who has remarried and lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, as ‘the best’ (she wears a ‘love’ ring on her finger that he gave her for Christmas).
When she was cast in Little Dorrit, Claire used to live in Peckham “with five friends from drama school.” She’s no longer living with five other people, but her life is still pretty much the same. She is keen to keep her private life out of the spotlight. “It would be terrible to be turned into a paparazzi person. I think it’s perfectly possible to be a successful actress without having to be a celebrity,” she says.
While at the Oxford School of Drama, Foy appeared in the plays Top Girls, Watership Down, Easy Virtue, and Touched. After appearing in two television roles (BBC’s Doctors and Being Human), Foy then made her professional stage debut as Jan in DNA by Dennis Kelly in rep with The Miracle by Lin Coghlan at the Royal National Theatre in London (2008).
She starred as the main protagonist Amy Dorrit in BBC mini-series Little Dorrit, and was nominated for an RTS Award. She went on to appear in TV movie Going Postal and in the Medieval adventure film Season of the Witch alongside Nicolas Cage. Foy co-starred in the Channel 4 mini-series The Promise, broadcast in February 2011, which she described in an interview at the time as her “favourite job ever”. She played a lead role of Helen in the TV Movie The Night Watch which was based on a Sarah Waters novel. Her TV credits include the lead role of Charlotte in White Heat, a semi-autobiographical drama by the award-winning writer Paula Milne, for the BBC alongside Sam Claflin and MyAnna Buring; the controversial and political film for Channel 4, Hacks; and the second season of the BBC’s popular revival of Upstairs Downstairs where she played Lady Persephone “Persie” Towyn. Her feature film Wreckers, in which she starred as the female lead, Dawn, opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, premiered at the London Film Festival and was released in 2011.
In 2012, Foy performed extensively on stage both at the Royal Court in Ding, Dong the Wicked and Mike Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love.
In February 2013, she returned to the stage as Lady Macbeth, alongside James McAvoy in the title, in Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios.
After her acclaimed performance in Macbeth, Foy joined the Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters family. She was cast as Sonya Karp, a Moroi who teaches at St. Vladimir’s Academy. Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters was based off of a novel series by Richelle Mead. The adaptation starred Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures), Danila Kolovsky, Lucy Fry (Lightning Point), Joely Richardson and Olga Kurylenko. It was directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls).
Claire Foy has then played Kate Balfour in NBC’s drama series Crossbones which unfortunately was cancelled. She was next seen as Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall opposite Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance. The second wife of King Henry VIII, she bore him a daughter who would grow up to be the great Elizabeth I.
In January 2015, Claire announced she was expecting a baby with new husband — they got officially married in December 2014 — and longtime boyfriend and fellow actor Stephen Campbell Moore. They co-starred in Season of the Witch and Pulse. Claire had been dating The History Boys actor since meeting him on Season Of The Witch in 2008. The pair share a flat in Notting Hill.
Foy, who had her first child in March 2015, was newly pregnant when shooting started on Wolf Hall. Anne Boleyn’s elaborate costumes were, she says, an “inconvenience”. “It was too early to tell anyone and it’s quite unpleasant when you can’t sit down or drink any water but, if I’m honest, all costumes, unless I’m in pyjamas, end up p***ing me off a bit.”
Career plans were then on hold as Foy contemplates parenthood. “The baby is pretty much the project of the moment”, she said. “I haven’t really given much thought to the whole ‘working mother’ thing. I think the less pressure you put on yourself at this point the better, so I guess I’ll just try to cope and make the right decisions when the time comes. But I’m very, very excited.”
Two major projects in a season are, she agreed, enough for anyone, and Wolf Hall was landmark television. “I’d like viewers to watch it, knowing that it’s an attempt to do something original and not patronise people,” she said.
For her amazing portrayal of Anne Boleyn, Foy was nominated for Best Actress at the British Academy Television Awards, Best Supporting Actress at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Female Actor at the Royal Television Society, Best Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television at the Satellite Awards, TV Movie/Mini Supporting Actress at the Gold Derby Awards and Best Actress – Long Fiction Program at the Festival de Television de Monte Carlo.
In the second semester of 2015 Claire began filming The Crown. This might just be the next Netflix series you binge watch. And with a tagline like, “Two houses, two courts, one Crown,” you can feel the drama already. Netflix has agreed to air six seasons with 10 episodes in each one. With a production base at a north London studio, it also took in UK locations including Ely Cathedral, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire. The production also travelled to South Africa. The cast for the first season includes Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, John Lithgow as Winston Churchill and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. The Crown became available to stream November 4, 2016.
As of October 2016, the second series of The Crown – which finishes in the 1960s – is already being filmed in Elstree in north London.
It seems our talented young woman is just getting started. The sky’s the limit for this talented and charming actress. Watch this space.
Height: 5’4″ (162cm)
Weight: 7st. 12lb. (50kg)
Playing Age: 16 – 25 years
Role Types: White
Eye Colour: Blue
Hair Colour: Dark Brown
Hair Length: Mid Length
Voice Quality: Warm
Accents & Dialects: American-Standard, Australian, Dublin, Irish-Southern, Midlands-East*, RP, Scottish-Standard, Yorkshire
(* = native)
Music & Dance: Mezzo-Soprano, Piano*
(* = highly skilled)
Vehicle Licences: Car Driving Licence
The Oxford School of Drama – 1 year Postgraduate