Goold was born in Highgate, England (a suburb of North London). His father was a management consultant, and his mother was an author of children's books. He attended the independent University College School, graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1994 and studied at New York University on a Fulbright Scholarship. He was trainee director at Donmar Warehouse for the 1995 season, and assisted on productions including 'Art' and Speed-the-Plow in the West End.
Goold was artistic director of the Royal and Derngate Theatres in Northampton from 2000 to 2005. Prior to that, he was an associate at the Salisbury Playhouse in 1996-97. In addition to his work as a director he has co-authored three adaptions for the stage.
Since then Goold has been artistic director of the Headlong Theatre Company (2005-2013) and will become artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in London in August 2013.
Goold directed Patrick Stewart (whom he had previously directed as Prospero, and later in RIchard II) as Macbeth in his acclaimed Minerva Studio staging of Macbeth at the Chichester Festival Theatre in May 2007. In September 2007 the production transferred to the Gielgud Theatre in London, then the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York and then to the Lyceum Theater on Broadway. At the 2007 Evening Standard Theatre Awards, Macbeth won two awards: Stewart won the Best Actor Award, while Goold won The Sydney Edwards Award for Best Director. It also won Goold a 2008 Olivier Award for Best Director. He says he wasn't concerned with thoughts of a career anti-climax. "I came home to an empty house after the Olivier Awards, clutching my trophy for Best Director and I realised that I'd peaked. It was now going to be downhill all the way. But I still felt quite comfortable with the realisation that nothing could get better after this." He later directed a 2010 BBC4 television film version of Macbeth using Soviet-era Russian-type uniforms and weapons.
In 2008 he directed the UK premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis's The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and a radical re-interpretation of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author at the Chichester Festival which he co-authored with Ben Power. This production subsequently transferred to the West End and toured the UK and later Australia. In 2009 he directed a hugely acclaimed West End revival of Lionel Bart's Oliver!. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, Goold recreated Sam Mendes' direction for the very successful London Palladium production. Goold's production was nominated for three Olivier Awards. The winners will be announced in March 2010.
In 2009, Goold directed a revival of Shakespeare's King Lear at the Young Vic. Goold set his "Lear" in Northern England during the 1970s, fascinated by the fact that during this decade, Britain was enduring the power of women. He approached the play with a drastically different view, and as a result this production received mixed reviews.
In 2009 he again won Best Director at the Evening Standard Awards for ENRON.
His opera credits include productions at Batignano Opera Festival and Garsingto