Kelly Macdonald was born 23rd February 1976 in Glasgow, Scotland. Macdonald and her younger brother David were brought up by their mother on a council estate in the town of Newton Mearns, where she attended the local Eastwood High School. Her first acting experience came early on. "I joined an amateur dramatics club one-night a week for seven weeks. The experience left me with such adrenaline," Kelly says.
It is fair to say that Macdonald came into the public's consciousness with a bang. She was working as a barmaid when she landed the role in Trainspotting (1996). Kelly was getting ready to apply to a drama school when she saw a leaflet advertising an open casting session for the film and her friends encouraged her to audition. "So I thought, 'I'll go along into this and see what an audition is like.' I wasn't sort of going for the part. I wasn't going along thinking I would ever sort of be in film." To much of Ms. Macdonald's suprise, she was indeed liked and eventually cast in the role of Diane, the underage seductress to Ewan McGregor's Renton. Trainspotting was a huge international hit and the public loved Kelly's portrayal of the acid-tongued school girl. The performance gained her a BAFTA Scotland Award nomination and left an ever-lasting impression on countless of critics and fans.
Ms. Macdonald was next to take on the role of Stella in Stella Does Tricks, a story about a teenage prostitute trying to change her life. Kelly's performance has been described "powerhouse" and "compelling" by the British film critics - it is fair to say that her performance as Stella still remains as one of the finest of her career so far.
Kelly abandoned plans for drama school and moved to London. She nabbed a leading role in the period drama Cousin Bette (1997) and a small part in the historical epic Elizabeth (1998).
Kelly delivered a memorable performance as Kathleen Robertson's best friend, the blue haired lesbian named Mike, in Gregg Araki's Splendor (1999). She also appeared in Entropy opposite Stephen Dorff, The Loss of Sexual Innocence with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Hugh Hudson's My Life So Far and the London production of short stories, Tube Tales, all the same year and she was named as one of European films 'Shooting Stars' by European Film Promotion.
Macdonald starred in Raymond De Felitta's Two Family House (2000) as Mary O'Neary. The performance earned her a Independent Spirit Award nomination as Best Female Lead. House! saw Kelly as Linda, a young woman trying to save her local bingo house. She also stole hearts as the quirky Laura in Some Voices. Laura is carrying a child with her aggressive ex. boyfriend while falling for a mentally unstable man, played by the upcoming Bond, Daniel Craig.
Kelly was next seen as Maggie Smith's maid in the magnificent Robert Altman film, Gosford Park (2001). "I got to gawp openly at people like Smith. Normally you're thinking too hard about what you're meant to be doing to take it all in, but that was my character's job in the film," Kelly said. The cast of Gosford Park won several acting ensemble awards, including a Screen Actors Guild and a BFCA Award. Kelly herself was also nominated for an Empire Award. Ms. Macdonald was also seen in Strictly Sinatra, a mediocre film saved by another wonderful performance from Kelly.
In 2003, she had a small part in Brush with Fate before filming the six episode BBC series State of Play, in which Kelly plays Della Smith, a journalist trying to solve a crime involving oil and politics. The series was very well taken by both the public and critics alike and Kelly's performance was especially memorable. She was next seen opposite Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy in Intermission. Kelly plays Deirdre, a beautiful young Dublin woman who is rejected by her boyfriend, John (Murphy). What she does not know is that John still loves her and has only dumped her as a somewhat bizarre test for their love.
Ms. Macdonald was next seen as Peter Pan in 2004's Finding Neverland, directed by Marc Foster. Although the part was a supporting role, Kelly was indeed wonderful and held her own opposite Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. She also had a cameo part as a reporter in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and appeared in one episode of Alias.
Kelly next starred opposite her State of Play co-star Bill Nighy in the charming The Girl in the Café, a quirky love story with a political backdrop. Kelly portrays a mysterious young woman who finds love in Nighy's shy politician in Iceland during the G8 summit.
Kelly Macdonald will be seen in several projects in late 2005, including Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, All the Invisible Children, which consists of seven short stories, and the family picture Nanny McPhee, opposite Emma Thompson and Colin Firth. Macdonald recently completed filming Charles Sturridge's Lassie, opposite Samantha Morton and Peter O'Toole. The film will premiere in December 2005 in the UK.
In August 2003, Kelly Macdonald married her boyfriend of four years, Dougie Payne, who plays bass for the band Travis. They live together in London.