Talulah Jane Riley-Milburn, more popularly known as Talulah Riley, is an English model and actress, who has appeared in many films including Pride & Prejudice, The Boat That Rocked, St Trinian's, Inception and St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold. Other than being a popular movie star herself, she was also in news for her marriage to billionaire industrialist, Elon Musk. Although the couple was the talk of the town, their relationship was rocky, to say the least. However, to view Talulah as just the wife of Musk would be unfair to the very talented actress, who, apart from being a part of several movies, has also done stage plays and appeared on television. The British actress is often pitted to be the next big thing in Hollywood along with compatriots such as Kendall Jenner and Anya Wu. Despite being divorced and having a difficult personal life, Talulah has kept her professional flag flying high even in a brutally competitive space like the film industry.
Childhood & Early Life
Talulah Jane Riley-Milburn was born on September 26, 1985 to Una Riley and Doug Milburn. The only child to her parents, Taluah grew up in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, England.
Talulah comes from an affluent and respected family. His father, Doug Milburn, is a screenwriter with quite a few notable scripts in his portfolio. He has written many episodes for famous television shows such as Silent Witness, Prime Suspect and The Bill. Before turning to screenwriting, he was the head of the National Security Squad. Riley’s mother, Una Riley is also a well-known personality in her field. She has founded and runs two companies- a security firm and a PR company.
Riley has been brought up entirely in England. She attended the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and Berkhamsted Collegiate School. She went to college at the Cheltenham Ladies College. She also attended the Open University while pursuing acting in London.
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Riley’s on screen career started in 2003 when she was just 18. Her first role was a minor one in the screen adaption of Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Poirot. She appeared in one of the episodes of the TV series- Five Little Pigs.
Her first real break came in 2005 when she was cast in Joe Wright’s adaption of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. She played the role of Mary Bennet, one of the sisters of the protagonist, essayed brilliantly by Penelope Cruz. Although she was not the lead in the movie, her performance grabbed the attention of moviemakers and she has not looked back since.
Many roles, both big and small, came her way after ‘Pride and Prejudice’. In the next couple of years, she played minor roles in movies and TV shows such as Agatha Christie’s ‘Marple’, ‘Friends Forever’ and ‘Phoo Action’. She became involved with the St. Trinian’s franchise, where she played the role of Annabelle Fritton. She also appeared in the same role in the sequel, St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.
Riley also played a significant role in the 2007 TV series ‘Nearly Famous’ where she essayed the character of Lila Reed. She appeared in all the six episodes of the series. In 2008, she played the role of Miss Evangelista in the famous show ‘Doctor Who’.
In 2009, she was the lead actress in a short film called ‘The Summer House’. The movie was very well received worldwide and achieved the pole position on many rating charts including iTunes.
The biggest film in her portfolio came in 2010 in the form of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster ‘Inception’. Riley not only got to work with the brilliant filmmaker, she also shared screen space with Leonardo Di Caprio in the movie.
Post Inception, Riley has worked in many movies such as ‘The Dilemma’, ‘White Frog’, ‘The Knot’, ‘The Liability’ and ‘In a World’. She played the role of a nurse in Marvel’s ‘Thor: The Dark World’.
While these were mainly small roles, Riley bagged a repeat role in the hit TV series, ‘Westworld’, directed by Christopher Nolan’s brother, Jonathan Nolan. The show was a runaway hit and Riley appeared in six of the ten episodes aired in season one. In the sci-fi show, Riley plays the role of Angela, one of the ‘hosts’ that welcome the ‘guests’ into the world of robots. She is also set to appear in the second season of the show, which is estimated to air in 2018.
Her latest work is ‘The Last Witness’ where she is portrayed as Jeanette Mitchell. The movie is set to release in the later part of 2017.
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Apart from movies and TV shows, Riley has also worked on the stage in London. Her first work on stage came in 2005 in ‘The Philadelphia Story’ at the prestigious Old Vic theatre in London. She has also worked in the stage adaption of Tennessee Williams’ ‘Summer and Smoke’ in 2006.
Riley’s personal life has been a subject of many controversies. She was married to billionaire entrepreneur and founder of technology giant, Tesla, Elon Musk. The two met in 2008 at London's West End club, Whisky Mist, in Mayfair in 2008. Musk was coping with divorce with his first wife at the time. Things turned serious between them and they got married in 2010 after dating each other for close to two years.
However, things took a southbound turn soon after as news of trouble in their marriage began to pour out. Musk filed for a divorce in December, 2012 and the couple split up.
A year after the divorce, they reconciled and got married again. It generated a lot of interest in the press and stories of their marriage were on every tabloid at the time. The couple did not have any children together but they lived with Musk’s five children from his first marriage.
However, their marriage did not last long this time either. On 31st December, 2014, Musk filed for divorce again. The alimony was set at 16 million US dollars in cash and a considerable amount of assets according to the couple’s pre-nuptial agreement. Although Musk withdrew the case a few months later, the well had already been poisoned.
Not waiting for Musk to have the chance to file again, Riley filed for a divorce herself in March 2016. She also reported that both of them have been living separately for over six months before she filed for the divorce. The divorce was finalized in October, 2016. The exact financial details of the settlement are yet to be made public.
Riley has been featured on the cover of fashion magazine, Esquire, on their March 2010 issue.
She was also named by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Art) as one of the Brits to Watch in 2011.
It is said that she was a virgin when she married Musk in 2010.
Awards & Recognition
Riley has been nominated for international awards five times in her career including the prestigious Screen Actor Guild Awards and the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards. She was also nominated for the Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2015.