Carey Mulligan

It's hard to believe that no less than three drama schools failed to recognise the shining talent of Carey Mulligan – rejecting her auditions outright. But Tinseltown has not made the same error.

In February 2010, the pixie-featured young star – who has no formal acting training – was vindicated when her name was read out at the Academy Award nomination ceremony.

Suddenly she found herself competing with the likes of Meryl Streep and Meryl Streep and Dame Helen Mirren for the best actress Oscar.

"This is beyond anything I've ever dreamed of," said Carey after witnessing the announcement of the nod from her new home in the US. "I've definitely never felt such excitement and nausea this early in the morning."

Carey Hannah Mulligan was born in London on May 28, 1985, the second child and only daughter of Liverpudlian hotel manager Steven and Welsh university lecturer Nano.

Aged three, Carey moved with her family to Germany after her father took a job managing the European arm of InterContinental Hotels. But she returned to England to attend senior school in Surrey.

Her interest in acting was sparked after she saw her brother appear in a school production of The King And I. She applied to several drama schools, but various rejections left her questioning her pursuit of a career in the trade.

Faced with pressure from her parents to go to university, she fibbed that she had applied – instead taking a part-time job as a barmaid while continuing to follow her dream.

Carey finally made it after seeking the advice of screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who gave a talk at her boarding school.

He put her in touch with a casting director, and as a result she landed the part of Keira Knightley's little sister in 2005 film Pride and Prejudice.

The work flowed steadily in after that, including several TV parts and an acclaimed stint on Broadway. But it wasn't until she played a schoolgirl who falls for an older man in An Education, and the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nods that came with it, that her star really began to rocket.

With a stellar CV that includes a role opposite Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in Public Enemies and sharing the bill with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in Public Enemies and sharing the bill with Michael Douglas in Wall Street follow up, Money Never Sleeps, there's no doubt Carey is a bona fide star.

But in real life – despite comparisons to Audrey Hepburn and a relationship with movie star Shia LaBeouf – her behaviour is anything but starry.

She is known for her down-to-earth attitude, and is probably the only Oscar nominee to travel around Los Angeles by bus.
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