Claire Elizabeth Foy was born in Stockport, England, on April 16, 1984. She was the youngest of three children. Her family later moved to Longwick, Buckinghamshire for her father’s job as a salesman for Rank Xerox. She is half-Irish, from his mother side, and half-English.
Her parents divorced when she was eight and she moved to Buckinghamshire with her mother, her brother Robert and her sister Gemma. And by the time she entered her teen years, she found herself admittedly quite angry, although she can’t pinpoint the exact reasons why.
“I think I’m still a deeply angry person on some level,” she told The Guardian. “Wasn’t a wayward teenager. I didn’t go off the rails and drink loads and snog loads of boys, and I was probably quite angry about that. I didn’t really follow my instincts, and instead did what I thought I was supposed to be doing. A lot of that anger came from not feeling like the person that you are is allowed to be out in the world.”
Claire attended a girls’ grammar school in Aylesbury before studying drama at Liverpool John Moores University studying drama and screen studies, where she developed her acting love; she was forced to seek other passion, as when she was 13 years old she developed juvenile arthritis, which prevented she from following any dreams of being a ballerina. She later took a training course and graduated from the Oxford School of Drama in 2007, where she appeared in multiple plays. While at school Claire also took on a number of odd jobs, including working in a grocery store, putting tags in caps and providing security at Wimbledon.
After graduating in 2007, Claire was cast in a 2008 episode of a new BBC TV series titled Being Human and played a guest role on the BBC series Doctors. She made her professional stage debut that same year at the Royal National Theatre in London, playing Jan in The Miracle.
Her first on-screen starring role came when she was cast as Amy Dorrit in the BBC mini-series Little Dorrit opposite Matthew Macfadyen and Tom Courtenay. Her work on the show earned her a Best Actress nomination from the Royal Television Society. By the time of the casting, she was living in Peckham with friends from drama school.
A role in the 2010 Sky One mini-series Going Postal was followed by a regular role as Lady Persephone Towyn on the popular series Upstairs Downstairs from 2010 to 2012.
In the meantime, she made her major motion picture debut alongside Nicolas Cage in Season of the Witch (2011) and starred in two other mini-series: Channel 4’s The Promise (2011) and BBC’s White Heat (2012). In February 2013, she returned to the stage to star as Lady MacBeth opposite James McAvoy in the title role of the Shakespearean tragedy, MacBeth, at Trafalgar Studios 1 in London. However, it was her role as Anne Boleyn in the 2015 TV series Wolf Hall that garnered her the most attention and acclaim she’d had up to that point.
She met her ex-husband, Stephen Campbell Moore, in Season of the Witch and they married on December of 2014. On February of 2018, the couple announce their separation, stating that they “have been [separated] for some time”.
For her work in the series, Claire received a 2016 BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Leading Actress, a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Best Actress in a Miniseries 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 July 2015, four months after giving birth to her first child, Ivy Rose Moore, Claire began filming the first season of the Netflix TV series The Crown, playing the starring role of Queen Elizabeth II. The series was an immediate hit when it hit the airwaves in 2016, and Claire’s work was well-received. For her stellar work on the series, she won a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as the British Artist of the Year award at the 2017 BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards. She also received nominations from the Primetime Emmy Awards and the BAFTA TV Awards, to name a few.
Other works from Claire are Breathe (2017), which she stars opposite Andrew Garfield – they became friends while filming the movie – and Unsane (2018), an Steven Sodbergh movie. Next for Claire is The Girl in the Spider’s Web, which she stars as Lisbeth Salander, and First Man – she will appear alongside Ryan Gosling as Janet Armstrong.
Acting, according to Claire, was her way of releasing the anger that came with the pressures of conformity. “You’re told as a young woman what’s attractive, what’s acceptable, what’s the right or wrong way to be,” she told The Guardian. “I’m lucky I discovered acting as a way of expressing myself, but unless you’re given the permission to do that, you can’t get it out.”