Jessica Brown Findlay on leaving Downton Abbey: I didn’t want to fall into my comfort zone

The former star of ITV's period drama hit reveals why she swapped Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil for Labyrinth's Alais


Jessica Brown Findlay has revealed that she left hit ITV show Downton Abbey because she was scared of discovering it was all she could do.


The 23-year-old actress, who played Downton Abbey’s rebellious youngest sister Lady Sybil, told Radio Times: “I didn’t want to fall into my comfort zone too much…”

Findlay Brown shocked viewers by departing Downton Abbey when her characer Lady Sybil died during childbirth half way through series three. “My contract was ending and I was unsure about signing away another year. Leaving me terrified, and that’s what made me want to do it,” said the actress.

“Being afraid and going into the unknown excites me, and what scared me more was to keep going and then one day discover it was all I could do and wish I had pushed myself more,” revealed the star. “I’d prefer to fail and fall flat on my face.”

The rising star, who’s also appeared in Albatross, Black Mirror and Misfits, plays Alais in Kate Mosse adaptation Labyrinth, which airs on Channel 4 this weekend. Of her decision to star in the historical thriller, Findlay Brown 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.”

And sword weilding isn’t the only difference between Alais and Lady Sybil. In a scene which would make the inhabitants of Downton Abbey blush, Brown Findlay sheds her clothes in Labyrinth.

“If you’re going to do a nude scene, be honest and natural…” advises the star. “The idea that actresses would work out at the gym for a thousand hours before hand… I was drinking pints and eating burgers. But actually, it’s not something I would do again.”


Read the full interview with Jessica Findlay Brown in this week’s Radio Times magazine, on sale now