Get to know Charlotte Riley before she plays Kate Middleton on a new TV show

Nov 29, 2016 at 5:48 p.m. ET
Image: WENN

British actress Charlotte Riley has been tapped to play the Duchess of Cambridge — the former Kate Middleton — in an upcoming made-for-TV movie about the British royals.

King Charles III is a fictional account set in the future, imagining Prince Charles's accession to the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth. All does not go smoothly when the new king refuses to sign a controversial bill into law and the country is thrown into a constitutional crisis.

So what do you need to know about the woman who will play one of our favorite modern royals? Riley was not plucked out of nowhere for this role. She's got quite the history on stage and screen. Here are seven things to know about the British actress.

1. She loves a good gangster


Riley played May Carleton in the BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders, centering on a gang in Birmingham, England, after the First World War. Appearing in the second season, her character is a widow who trains racehorses and is the love interest of head gangster Tommy Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy.

2. She's an award-winning playwright

In 2004, fresh out of university, Riley won the Sunday Times' Playwriting Award for Shaking Cecilia, co-written with Tiffany Wood. The plot deals with an agoraphobic on a road trip in a tiny Mini.

3. She's married to Tom Hardy


Yes, that Tom Hardy — and they met on the set of one of literature's most tragic love stories, Wuthering Heights. They wed in 2014 and welcomed their first child in October 2015.

4. She's a big fan of Tom Cruise


Riley and Cruise worked together on Edge of Tomorrow, and Riley had nothing but accolades for what she called her down-to-earth co-star.

"He sits and eats his lunch with the rest of the cast, sends everyone a Christmas card, there was no sense of 'us and them'," she said. "You can be on set with some actors and they're very in their own world and all about their own performance. Tom Cruise is a team player. He knows that the better the rapport between the lead actors and the support actors, the better the movie. You make yourself look good by ensuring everybody looks good and then everyone's fab together."

5. She has opinions about beards

Like most women, Riley has some ideas about beards — and it's not surprising, considering some of the facial hair her husband has sported for his own roles. "I think beards are fab as long as there is no food in them and they smell nice," she said. "Yeah, they're better than short and spiky because that's not good for women's delicate skin."

6. She's nosy as hell


Her character Arabella in the movie Jonathan Strange is pretty sure that everyone's business is her business, and Riley says the same is true of herself. "She's pretty nosy. I'm quite a nosy person. My dad says I have the ears of an elephant. I can hear everything that's going on. I hate missing out on things," she said.

"Nosy-slash-inquisitive. I'm intrigued by people. There's a saying up north. 'Shy bairns get nowt.' You don't ask, you don't get. You don't enquire, you don't learn."

7. She's stoked to play Kate the Great


Riley is pegged to play Kate, who will herself be queen consort upon the death of Charles when her husband Prince William ascends, and it's an exciting role. "Kate Middleton is a really interesting woman, particularly within the context of this play, and it is a challenge I am really looking forward to," she told the BBC.

King Charles III is currently filming.