Downton's Lady Sybil, actress Jessica Brown-Findlay: I prepared for nude scenes by eating burgers and drinking pints

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Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown-Findlay has spoken out against the pressure on young actresses to do nude scenes saying she had been “naïve” to agree to go topless and wouldn’t do so again.

The actress, 23, who played Lady Sybil in the ITV period drama said it was “awful” that women get criticised for their bodies and said she’d prepared for to bare all by eating burgers and drinking pints rather than slimming down in the gym.

“I did find it very odd being naked in front of lots of people and I think it’s awful that women get so criticised about their bodies,” she told Radio Times, referring to a scene in 2011 film Albatross in which she plays a teenager who lifts up her top to convince a newsagent to sell her cigarettes.

She added: “Otherwise I’d be starving myself for ever, which I just couldn’t do. The idea that actresses would work out at the gym for a thousand hours beforehand…I was drinking pints and eating burgers. I think if you’re going to do a nude scene be honest and natural. But actually, it’s not something I would do again.”

Brown-Findlay, who also sheds her clothes in a forthcoming Channel 4 adaptation of Kate Mosse’s best-selling book Labyrinth, admitted:  “To be honest, Albatross was naivety and not knowing that I could say no. I had no idea what was going to happen and thought I was going to be shot from behind.”

Brown-Findlay has just filmed Winter’s Tale opposite Will Smith and Russell Crowe. But Tinseltown holds no sway for the Berkshire-born actress who says her true ambition is to own “a little tea and sandwich shop”.

“Hollywood is not for me. I love acting, but I also love London,” she said.

Being the first major character to exit Downton Abbey at the height of its success - her character Lady Sybil dying in childbirth in series three- was a brave move.

Speaking of the contrast between buttoned-up aristocrats and her character in Labyrinth, she said: “Acting in Downton was quite restrictive - you can find freedom within it but it's certainly not running around, covered in mud, wielding a sword. So it was liberating to play Alais, because she goes through so much emotionally, and that sort of depth of strength actually helped me with what happened to Sybil.”

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