Kelly Macdonald

Last updated on the 16 June 2024 by Maeve

Kelly Macdonald headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 23 February 1976, Glasgow, Scotland.

In her early life, Kelly Macdonald grew up in a working-class family in Glasgow. She attended the Eastwood High School and showed an early interest in acting. Encouraged by her teachers, she pursued her passion by joining a local theatre group.

Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Mcgregor in Trainspotting
Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Mcgregor in Trainspotting

Kelly Macdonald’s breakthrough came in 1996 when she was cast in Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed film, “Trainspotting.” Her portrayal of Diane, a young woman entangled in the chaotic world of drug addiction, showcased her acting abilities and garnered widespread praise. This role catapulted her into the spotlight, earning her international recognition and opening doors to numerous opportunities.

Kelly Macdonald earned recognition and acclaim for her portrayal in the BBC One film “The Girl in the Cafe” (2005). Her performance led to her receiving the prestigious Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Kelly Macdonald The Victim
Kelly Macdonald in The Victim

Kelly Macdonald’s talent extended beyond the big screen, as she also made notable contributions to television. She portrayed Margaret Thompson in the critically acclaimed series “Boardwalk Empire” (2010-2014). Her portrayal of a complex and ambitious woman in a male-dominated world earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

She married musician Dougie Payne, a member of the band Travis, in 2003. The couple have two children together. They separated in 2017.


BAFTA award


WINNER | Scotland | Television: Actress for The Victim (2019)



Suggested viewing


The Victim (2019)

The Victim poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.6

“The Victim” is a gripping drama series that follows the story of Anna Dean, a grieving mother seeking justice for her murdered child. As the plot unfolds, it becomes a complex exploration of truth, identity, and the repercussions of online vigilantism. The show dives into the blurred lines between victim and perpetrator.

Top cast: Kelly Macdonald, John Hannah, James Harkness, John Scougall, Karla Crome, Isis Hainsworth, Jamie Sives, Andrew Rothney.


Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.6

“Trainspotting” is a gritty and intense film that delves into the lives of a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh. Mark Renton, the protagonist, struggles with addiction, friendship, and the consequences of his choices. The story explores themes of self-destruction, redemption and the pursuit of a better life amidst a chaotic and drug-infested world.

Top cast: Ewan Mcgregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd, Peter Mullans, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas.


The Girl in the Café (2005)

The Girl in the Café

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.4

“The Girl in the Café” is a heartwarming and thought-provoking film that follows the unlikely romance between Lawrence, a reserved bureaucrat, and Gina, an outspoken and socially conscious woman. Their encounter at a café leads to a life-changing journey as they traverse personal and political challenges, finding love in unexpected places.

Top cast: Bill Nighy, Kelly Macdonald, Meneka Das, Anton Lesser, Paul Ritter, Ken Stott, Penny Downie, Damon Younger, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir.


Line of Duty (2012)

Line of Duty poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.7

“Line of Duty” is a thrilling police procedural series that follows the work of AC-12, an anti-corruption unit in the fictional city of Midland. Led by Superintendent Ted Hastings, the team investigates complex cases involving corrupt officers and uncovers a web of deceit, conspiracy and betrayal within the police.

Top cast: Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Kelly Macdonald, Craig Parkinson, Gregory Piper, Nigel Boyle, Keeley Hawes, Polly Walker, Maya Sondhi, Lennie James.


Brave (2012)


Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.1

“Brave” is an enchanting animated film set in the Scottish Highlands. Merida, a spirited princess, defies tradition by refusing to marry and sets off a chain of events that leads her to discover the true meaning of bravery. With the help of her archery skills and a magical curse, she learns the importance of family, love and self-acceptance.

Top cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Eilidh Fraser.


Operation Mincemeat (2021)

Operation Mincemeat

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.6

“Operation Mincemeat” is based on a World War II deception plan devised by British intelligence. In 1943, a deceased body was dressed as a Royal Marine officer and dropped off the coast of Spain, carrying false documents suggesting an Allied invasion of Greece. The ruse successfully misled the Axis powers, diverting their attention and aiding in the success of the subsequent Allied invasion of Sicily.

Top cast: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Jason Isaacs, Johnny Flynn, Mark Gatiss, Hattie Morahan, Paul Ritter.


Gosford Park (2002)

Gosford Park poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.2

“Gosford Park”is a murder mystery film set in 1932. A weekend gathering at a British country estate brings together wealthy guests and their servants. Tensions rise as secrets and conflicts between the classes unravel, leading to a murder. The film explores the complex relationships and social dynamics of the time, revealing hidden truths and motives.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, Jeremy Northam.


State of Play (2003)

State of Play poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.3

State of Play follows a newspaper investigation into the suspicious death of a political researcher. The investigation leads the reporter down a dark path, uncovering a link between the researcher’s death and the murder of a teenager. As the journalist delves deeper, he finds himself questioning the actions of a powerful politician he once considered a friend and is forced to choose between loyalty and exposing a dangerous conspiracy.

Top cast: David Morrissey, Bill Nighy, Kelly Macdonald, John Simm, Polly Walker, Philip Glenister, James McAvoy, Michael Feast, Amelia Bullmore.


Black Mirror –
Hated in the Nation (2016)

Hated in the Nation poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.5

In a dark future where social media reigns supreme, a string of seemingly random deaths sparks a detective’s investigation. As she digs deeper, she uncovers a horrifying connection – a popular app that lets users channel their online hatred into deadly action.

Top cast: Kelly Macdonald, Faye Marsay, Benedict Wong, Jonas Karlsson, Joe Armstrong, Elizabeth Berrington, Charles Babalola, Ben Miles, Esther Hall, Holli Dempsey.


Kelly Macdonald full filmography @ Wikipedia
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