Charlotte Riley was born in England on December 29th, 1981 to parents Michael and Margaret Riley. Charlotte and her elder brother Simon, grew up in Co. Durham, England where she stayed close to when she went to Durham University to study English.
After graduating from Durham, Charlotte took a two year break during which she taught drama to disabled children. She also persuaded the Arts Council to give her a £5,000 grant and won a playwriting award for Shaking Cecilia, a comedy she took on tour to Brussels. She then went on to pursue an acting course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and only sixth months after finishing this course was chosen to play Cathy Earnshaw in ITV’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights.
After filming Wuthering Heights Charlotte was reunited with costar Tom Hardy for Sky One’s gritty drama The Take in which the pair had to act out a very harrowing rape scene. Charlotte says her familiarity with Tom helped them through the scene; “Because we’d worked on Wuthering Heights – when the love scene was really passionate – we had a good shorthand between us and knew what we were doing. But as well as we knew each other, it had to be handled with delicacy and trust.”