How Line of Duty’s Kelly Macdonald forged a remarkable acting career spanning 26 years


Line of Duty viewers joked that they want witness protection after bent copper DCI Jo Davidson ended up living her ‘best life’ in a ‘country cottage with a hot love interest and waggy-tailed dog’ as the nail-biting series finale drew to a close.

Avid fans took to social media after closing scenes aired and vented their frustration that the bent copper colluding with the organised crime groups (OCGs) was actually DSI Ian Buckells.  

But despite feeling underwhelmed when the mysterious antagonist ‘H’ was finally unmasked, viewers were quick to comment on how Jo Davidson, played by Kelly Macdonald, 45, had got the ‘best deal’ with her luxury cobbled cottage, located in Wales – with many asking if it was available to rent.

After being given a luxury life in witness protection – despite the fact the intelligence she delivered was completely wrong – the corrupt cop was seen stepping out into the fresh countryside with a loyal Golden Retriever by her side, and was shortly joined by a stunning redhead.  

‘No thoughts just cottage core Jo Davidson finally living her best free life,’ wrote one person who tuned in, while a second commented: ‘Jo Davidson got the best deal. A country cottage, a love interest and best of all, a doggo.’

Line of Duty viewers joked the only part they were happy with as last night’s nail-biting series finale drew to a close was that bent copper DCI Jo Davidson got to live her ‘best life’ in a quaint countryside cottage with her adorable dog and hot girlfriend. Pictured, in Witness Protection with a Golden Retriever 

Line of Duty fans joked the bent copper is living her 'best life' in a quaint countryside cottage with her adorable dog and hot girlfriend (pictured, together)

Line of Duty fans joked the bent copper is living her ‘best life’ in a quaint countryside cottage with her adorable dog and hot girlfriend (pictured, together)

Taking to social media, one person commented: 'No thoughts just cottage core Jo Davidson finally living her best free life' (pictured)

Taking to social media, one person commented: ‘No thoughts just cottage core Jo Davidson finally living her best free life’ (pictured)

A third added: ‘Witness Protection going that extra mile by allocating Jo Davidson a dog, girlfriend and quaint little cottage,’ while a fourth joked: 

‘Watching last night’s episode I couldn’t help but think that entering a life of crime in order to get witness protection could afford me a luxury cottage, dog and a pretty wife. Peaks and troughs.’  

While the finale tied up many unresolved storylines, there were still some gaping plot holes left unanswered.

Perhaps the most vexing was why Buckells ordered the attempted murder of DCI Jo Davidson, when she was under the belief H was actually another dirty former police chief, DCS Patrick Fairbank.

But when it came to Davidson’s happy ending, it seems viewers were more than willing to let that one slide, with her idyllic new life a far cry away from the one Gill Biggeloe received. 

‘Still unsure how Jo Davidson got off so lightly and ended up in Kate Winslet’s cottage from The Holiday,’ commented one, while a second wrote: ‘Jo Davidson ends up with a red head, a dog and a fabulous cottage in the countryside? Talk about falling into a pile of s**t and coming out smelling like roses.’  

After being imprisoned for her own corrupt behaviour, police officer Joanne Davidson was taken away in a police van by corrupt prison guards under the ruse that she was being interviewed at Hillside Lane. Pictured, in the prison cell

After being imprisoned for her own corrupt behaviour, police officer Joanne Davidson was taken away in a police van by corrupt prison guards under the ruse that she was being interviewed at Hillside Lane. Pictured, in the prison cell 

Taking to social media, one person penned: 'Jo Davidson ends up with a red head, a dog and a fabulous cottage in the countryside? Talk about falling into a pile of s**t and coming out smelling like roses' (pictured)

Taking to social media, one person penned: ‘Jo Davidson ends up with a red head, a dog and a fabulous cottage in the countryside? Talk about falling into a pile of s**t and coming out smelling like roses’ (pictured)

Kelly Macdonald has been praised for her for her first-rate portrayal of DCI Joanne Davidson in BBC drama Line of Duty - but it's far from her first big role of note

Kelly Macdonald has been praised for her for her first-rate portrayal of DCI Joanne Davidson in BBC drama Line of Duty – but it’s far from her first big role of note

A third added: ‘Jo Davidson really won here. Puppy? Foliage? Cottage?!’ while a fourth penned: ‘Aww, Jo Davidson gets a happy ending too – nice country cottage, photogenic dog and a girlfriend who looks a bit like Demelza from Poldark/Amy Pond from Doctor Who.’ 

It’s kept us on the edge of our seat for months – and thanks to her role as bent copper DCI Joanne Davidson in BBC’s Line of Duty, Kelly Macdonald is fast becoming one of the most successful names in British film and television. 

The Scottish actress fell into acting by chance at the age of 19, and despite moving largely under the radar with a collection of eclectic and impressive performances ever since, it seems her latest role in the hit BBC police drama is finally earning her the recognition she deserves. 

Gripping 11 million viewers for the grand finale last night, critics and viewers alike have been quick to praise Macdonald for her first-class portrayal of the dodgy Detective Chief Inspector, with industry insiders predicting she could soon be awarded national treasure status. 

With performances ranging from underage seductress Diane in the 90s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic novel Trainspotting to Gina in the Emmy Award-winning movie The Girl in the Cafe under her belt, Macdonald is fast becoming one of the most coveted actresses in the industry. 

Pictured, Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Mcgregor as Diane Coulson and Renton in 90s adaptation of Irvine Welsh's classic novel Trainspotting

Pictured, Kelly Macdonald and Ewan Mcgregor as Diane Coulson and Renton in 90s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic novel Trainspotting

Macdonald bagged a role in the 90s cult classic Trainspotting aged 20, after answering an open call for the part which had been advertised on flyers being handed out around Glasgow and Edinburgh. She is pictured as Diane in the 1996 film

Macdonald bagged a role in the 90s cult classic Trainspotting aged 20, after answering an open call for the part which had been advertised on flyers being handed out around Glasgow and Edinburgh. She is pictured as Diane in the 1996 film

‘She’s on her way to being a national treasure,’ former Empire editor Ian Nathan told The Times. 

‘She’s worked for directors like Danny Boyle, Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Robert Altman, who all have a house style you have to fit into and keep up with. And yet she started acting almost by accident. She’s got one of the most remarkable careers of any British actor.’ 

Macdonald – whose father was a painter and decorator and her mother a garment industry sales executive who raised her from the age of nine after their divorce – had no plans to become an actor.

She bagged a role in the 90s cult classic Trainspotting at the tender age of just 19 after answering an open call for the part which had been advertised on flyers handed out around her hometown of Glasgow, which she’d spotted while working as a barmaid. 

The casting call said the makers of Shallow Grave were looking for the ‘next Patricia Arquette’ and Macdonald – who had planned to go to art school – tried out for the role of Diane Coulson without having even read the novel. 

Trainspotting was released to critical acclaim – becoming the highest grossing British film of 1996 and the fourth highest in British history at the time. 

Pictured, Macdonald in Gosford Park, a 2001 Academy Award-nominated film, as Mary Maceachran waiting on Dame Maggie Smith's Constance, Countess of Trentham

Pictured, Macdonald in Gosford Park, a 2001 Academy Award-nominated film, as Mary Maceachran waiting on Dame Maggie Smith’s Constance, Countess of Trentham

Macdonald starred as a Victorian-era scullery maid Evangeline in 2005 fantasy comedy Nanny McPhee

Macdonald starred as a Victorian-era scullery maid Evangeline in 2005 fantasy comedy Nanny McPhee

Her performance as the tempestuous underage lover to Ewan McGregor’s drug-addled Renton firmly cemented her place in British film history. 

Fresh off the back of Trainspotting, Macdonald capitalised on the success by flying to New York where she met with Martin Scorsese to read for the female lead in Bringing Out the Dead. 

While she missed out on that role, Scorsese knew talent where she saw it and reached out 10 years later with the stellar script for Boardwalk Empire, where she starred as Margaret Schroeder for five seasons.   

Macdonald tried out for the role of Trinity in 1999 thriller The Matrix, but was turned down for the part having not read the script in advance.

Macdonald was nominated for a Golden Globe and awarded an Emmy for her role in The Girl in the Café - playing Gina alongside Bill Nighy as Lawrence

Macdonald was nominated for a Golden Globe and awarded an Emmy for her role in The Girl in the Café – playing Gina alongside Bill Nighy as Lawrence 

Her next role of note was in Gosford Park, a 2001 Academy Award-nominated film in which she starred as Mary Maceachran – an inexperienced maid shown the ropes by head housemaid Elsie. 

The movie, written by Julian Fellowes, is set in an English country house during the 1930s and stars a host of British actors including Dame Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry and Clive Owen. 

In 2003, Macdonald married fellow Glaswegian Dougie Payne, the bassist in the rock band Travis. The couple welcomed their first son, Freddie Peter Payne, in March 2008, and their second son, Theodore William, arrived in December 2012. 

Macdonald likes to keep her private life just that – which is likely why we’ve never seen her on a reality TV show. In 2014 she told the Independent that she can’t bear reality TV, adding: ‘The people on programmes like Made in Chelsea just want to be celebrities. It’s so depressing. No proper actor has that as a goal. 

‘I’m striving for longevity in my career. I won’t be on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. They’d say, ‘Get out of here – you’re not a celebrity!’.’

In 2003, Macdonald married fellow Glaswegian Dougie Payne, the bassist in the rock band Travis. The couple have two children, but separated in 2017

In 2003, Macdonald married fellow Glaswegian Dougie Payne, the bassist in the rock band Travis. The couple have two children, but separated in 2017

She added that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, telling the publication: ‘I properly enjoy what I do, but I know it’s not brain surgery. I don’t take myself too seriously. There’s only one diva in our household, and he’s tiny. There’s no room for any others.’

The couple moved back to their home town of Glasgow in 2014, after living in London and New York. 

In 2017 Payne and Macdonald announced their separation; the private pair issued a statement revealing that while they would have preferred to keep the information private, they separated but remain united in parenting their two children. 

Macdonald bagged the role of West Texan housewife Carla Jean Moss in the Academy Award-winning No Country for Old Men. The 2008 Coen brothers classic once again confirmed Macdonald’s massive talents – but the actress revealed that it was her who sought out the esteemed directors ahead of casting. 

In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes in 2008 she said: ‘They didn’t know why I was being brought into a room to meet them. I just happened to be in New York, basically, and my agent got me in to meet the casting director to go on tape; they hadn’t started casting the film yet. And then from that she said, ‘I think you should meet Joel and Ethan’.

In 2012, Macdonald lent her voice to play Merida, a Scottish princess who bucks tradition by spurning her wedding match in Pixar's first film with a Disney princess, Brave

In 2012, Macdonald lent her voice to play Merida, a Scottish princess who bucks tradition by spurning her wedding match in Pixar’s first film with a Disney princess, Brave

‘So when I went to see them it was just in their office and it was very laid-back and I was obviously not from West Texas or anything they were looking for. 

‘So they were just very, like, ‘You seem very nice… But what’s going on here?’ They thought the casting director had gone a bit mad! But then I read a couple of scenes and it all made sense!’  

But it was while playing kindhearted maid Evangeline in the 2005 fantasy comedy Nanny McPhee that Macdonald truly won a place in the hearts of the British public.

She starred as a Victorian-era scullery maid alongside Emma Thompson’s magical Nanny McPhee and widowed undertaker Cedric Brown, with whom she eventually falls in love.  

Macdonald played Margaret Thompson in Boardwalk Empire - the widow of an abusive husband whose main motivation is to secure a source of income. She is pictured alongside Steve Buscemi in the show

Macdonald played Margaret Thompson in Boardwalk Empire – the widow of an abusive husband whose main motivation is to secure a source of income. She is pictured alongside Steve Buscemi in the show 

Upon her casting as Margaret in the HBO drama, Macdonald said she's often called on to play a strong-willed introvert. She is pictured alongside Steve Buscemi in the show

Upon her casting as Margaret in the HBO drama, Macdonald said she’s often called on to play a strong-willed introvert. She is pictured alongside Steve Buscemi in the show

The star joked in 2018 about her lengthy history of playing maids or housewives, insisting she ‘very rarely gets to play glamorous parts’. 

Soon afterwards she was nominated for a Golden Globe and awarded an Emmy for her role in The Girl in the Café – playing Gina, a woman who strikes up a relationship with a retired civil servant several years her senior. 

Securing her place among British acting royalty, she won a coveted role in the 2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as Helena Ravenclaw.  

Delivering another stellar performance, Macdonald played Margaret Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, the widow of an abusive husband whose main motivation is to secure a source of income that can provide for her and her children. 

Upon her casting as Margaret in the HBO drama, Macdonald said she’s often called on to play a strong willed introvert, but doesn’t fear being typecast as a passive female lead.  

Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio said the show was 'honoured' to have her on board while Piers Wenger described Macdonald as 'one of the UK's most versatile actors'

Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio said the show was ‘honoured’ to have her on board while Piers Wenger described Macdonald as ‘one of the UK’s most versatile actors’

‘I think I’m a good listener’, she told the Guardian. ‘I tend to get cast as a certain type of quiet, almost introverted person who’s strong on the inside, but the characters are so very different I don’t see it as any kind of typecasting.’ 

In 2012, Macdonald lent her voice to play Merida, a Scottish princess who bucks tradition by spurning her wedding match in Pixar’s first film with a Disney princess, Brave. 

The cartoon won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Macdonald said she loved the ‘energy and feistiness’ of the character. 

Another well-loved series that Macdonald featured in was Black Mirror, the British science fiction anthology series written by Charlie Brooker which has gained a huge cult following since its release on Channel 4 in 2013. 

The Scottish actress arrives at the British Academy Scotland Awards on 3 November, 2019 (pictured)

The Scottish actress arrives at the British Academy Scotland Awards on 3 November, 2019 (pictured)

Kelly Macdonald attending Sony Pictures Classics and The Cinema Society as they host a New York Special Screening of 'Puzzle' in the US on  24 July 2018

Kelly Macdonald attending Sony Pictures Classics and The Cinema Society as they host a New York Special Screening of ‘Puzzle’ in the US on  24 July 2018

Having since been picked up by Netflix, the show’s third season premiered in 2016 with Macdonald featuring in the sixth and final episode Hated in the Nation. The 89-minute episode was met with mixed reviews, but Macdonald’s stellar acting performance was highly praised.   

Macdonald had never seen an episode of Line of Duty before being cast in her latest role, but has followed in the footsteps of big name additions such as Keeley Hawes, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham. 

‘I’m one of the newcomers actually, because I hadn’t watched Line Of Duty until I was offered the part and so I was doing a bit of bingeing,’ she said, speaking to The Sun.

‘I wasn’t going to turn up if I carried on. It was just too intimidating.’ 

Creator Jed Mercurio said the show was ‘honoured’ to have her on board, while Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, described Macdonald as ‘one of the UK’s most versatile actors’. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk