Born in Hong Kong to father Adrian (banker) and mother Janet (journalist), Romola Garai's unusual name is the female version of Romolo, an Italian name for boys (from Latin Romulus, the founder of Rome). She grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong until she was eight when her family returned to lay roots in Wiltshire. At sixteen, she left her parents and youngest sister, Roxy, to live in London with her older sister, Rosie, and attend school at City of London's School for Girls, where her major studies were based on theatre. She got her beginnings as a professional actress when she was spotted in a school production by a casting director looking for girls to play Judi Dench in the ITV drama The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) (TV). After that role, she went on with her studies, eventually enrolling in University of London where she majored in English, planning to become a journalist like her mother once was. But after offers for other roles began to come in, she deferred her degree and eventually quit altogether to focus more on her acting career. Romola went on to film "Daniel Deronda" (2002), I Capture the Castle (2003), Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) and Vanity Fair (2004) with Reese Witherspoon. Not to mention her role in the West End play by Michael Hastings, Calico as Lucia Joyce for which she was nominated Outstanding Newcomer by the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.