Ruth Wilson was born on 13 January, 1982 in Ashford, England. She is perhaps best known for her television career which includes her Golden Globe-winning role of Alison Bailey in The Affair and Alice Morgan in Luther. She is also a two-time Olivier Award winner and two-time Tony Award nominee.
She attended Notre Dame School and Esher College in Surrey, England, and went on to study History at the University of Nottingham, graduating in 2003. She trained as an actor at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and graduated in 2005.
Wilson began her career in television in the UK and, following her debut in the Channel 5 sitcom Suburban Shootout in 2006, she landed the title role in the BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, garnering wide critical acclaim and earning a BAFTA nomination in 2007 and a Golden Globe nomination in 2008. She continued to work in TV, booking roles in ITV's Agatha Christie's Marple and the BBC's Capturing Mary.
She made her National Theatre stage debut in May 2007, taking on the role of Tanya in Gorky's Philistines through to August 2007. She solidified her stage career after landing the role of Stella in the Donmar Warehouse revival of A Streetcar Named Desire from July to October 2009, ultimately winning her first Olivier Award in 2010. Her other London stage credits include the role of Karin in the 2010 Almeida Theatre production of Through a Glass Darkly and the title role in the 2011 Donmar Warehouse production of Anna Christie, starring opposite Jude Law, which earned her a second Olivier Award in 2012. She also appeared in The El Train at Hoxton Hall in 2013.
Wilson finally made her Broadway debut in December 2014, starring opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway premiere of Constellations at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The limited engagement ended in March 2015 and resulted in a Theatre World Award and her first Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a leading role in a play. She would return to London's National Theatre from December 2016 to February 2017, taking on the title role in Patrick Marber's new version of Hedda Gabler and earning another Olivier Award nomination. The production was also broadcast live to cinemas via National Theatre Live.
Alongside her career on stage, Wilson continued appearing regularly in films and on television. Her first major film role was Princess Betsy Tverskoy in 2012's Anna Karenina. In 2013, she appeared in two movies for Disney, playing Rebecca Reid in The Lone Ranger and Margaret Goff in Saving Mr. Banks. Other film credits include Locke (2014), Suite Française (2015), Netflix's I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016), How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017), Dark River (2017), and The Little Stranger (2018).
In television, her most notable recurring roles are Number 313 in The Prisoner in 2009, the role of Alice Morgan, opposite Idris Elba, in the BBC's Luther (since 2010), and the role of Alison Bailey on Showtime's The Affair from 2014 to 2018. For the latter, she won a Golden Globe in 2015. In 2018, she also starred as Alison Wilson, her actual grandmother, in the BBC drama Mrs Wilson, which explored the secret, bigamous lifestyle of her grandfather. Since 2019, she has starred as Marisa Coulter in the BBC/HBO tv adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. Wilson also starred in HBO's film adaptation of J.T. Rogers' Tony Award winning play Oslo, alongside Andrew Scott, in 2021.
Wilson returned to Broadway to play Cordelia and the Fool, opposite Glenda Jackson, in King Lear at the Cort Theatre from February 28 through June 9, 2019, earning her second Tony Award nomination, this time for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play.