Jessica Brown Findlay: 'My poor mum was in bits when she watched me die on screen'

Jessica Brown Findlay, 23, is an actress. 'Labyrinth' will be broadcast on Saturday and Sunday on Channel 4, and will be released on DVD on 1 April

Until I was 18, ballet was my life I loved it; I even danced at the Royal Opera House with the Kirov. Then I injured my ankle, had three operations on it, and the last one went wrong. I was told I would never dance again. The disappointment was huge, but I was lucky: I had a great group of friends outside that world who encouraged me to discover who I was without the label "ballet dancer".

Becoming a student helped me I went to St Martins, got a student loan and spent loads of time going to the theatre. I realised there were similarities between acting and ballet, and that what I missed most about ballet was the performance aspect. So I decided to try to be an actress instead.

Actors are dramatic people Am I dramatic? I'm a nightmare! Well, no, not really. I do love the madness of a film set, the dynamic, but I also love to be able to step back from it, go home and close my door.

'Downton Abbey' changed my life It was all so unexpected, a mad roller coaster. Stepping away [Findlay's character, Lady Sybil, died at the end of series three] immediately brought a calm back to my life. But I had such a fantastic time, and worked with such a great group of people – not a bad egg among them.

Dying on screen is fun I'd done a lot of research into Lady Sybil's demise from eclampsia, and I didn't want my death scene to look pretty, or covered up, or made Downton-friendly. I wanted it to be honest. Watching it back on TV was a very strange experience, though. My poor mum was in bits.

I chose to leave 'Downton' I had no idea what the future was going to hold, but ever since I had my operation on my ankle, I've always felt it best to trust my gut, and to try new things. I have so much more to learn in this industry. The unknown excites me.

Filming 'Labyrinth' is the most fun I've had on set It's a mini-series [set to air this week] based on Kate Mosse's bestselling book. I'd not read the book when I took the part, but I have now, and Kate came to watch the film. She was wonderful, free and giving, and she really does write such strong women!

It's so important to avoid typecasting When it comes to looks, it's all so fleeting; external beauty is merely a passing style. As an actor, you want to show there is more fire in your belly than just the way you look. It's exciting to transform, to play characters unlike yourself, to put yourself in different situations and try to understand them, gain empathy even.

I write poetry It sounds incredibly poncey, I know, but I really like it. It's just for myself, and I love being able to have something to do without relying on an agent to call me up first. If I want, I can get up and write poetry all day. All I need is a pen and paper.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition