Bell was born in Billingham, Teesside, England, where he grew up with his mother, Eileen (née Matfin), and elder sister, Kathryn. His father, John Bell, a toolmaker, left before Bell was born. Bell began his involvement with dance after he accompanied his sister to her ballet lessons. He was a pupil at Northfield School and took performing arts classes at the local franchise of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. He was a member of the National Youth Music Theatre.
In 1999, he was chosen from a field of over 2,000 boys for the role of Billy Elliot, an 11-year-old boy who dismays his working-class widowed father and elder brother by taking up ballet.
First film Jamie Bell had done and he received a BAFTA for Best Performance by a Leading Actor (at the age of 14)