Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay will star as Mary Yellan in a new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn.
The actress – who dramatically departed the period drama late last year – will appear alongside The Paradise’s Matthew McNulty and Sean Harris, who wowed critics last month in Channel 4’s Southcliffe. Also appearing are McNulty’s co-star Ben Daniels, Joanne Whalley (Gossip Girl) and Shirley Henderson (The Crimson Petal and The White) in the three-part drama, dramatised by The White Queen screenwriter Emma Frost.
Set in the late 19th century, the story follows the journey of spirited Mary who is forced to move in with her Aunt Patience (Whalley) after the death of her mother. But the woman who greets her is far removed from the carefree soul she remembers, with her life at Jamaica Inn largely governed by her domineering husband, Joss (Harris).
The Inn is deserted – the doors are locked and the rooms used for storage – but not all is as it seems. Mary soon discovers Joss is the head of a smuggling ring and his dangerous dealings lead her to meet his roguishly handsome younger brother, Jem Merlyn (McNulty). But will Mary’s disgust at everything he stands for outweigh her attraction to him? And will her visit to the parish vicar, Francis Davey (Daniels), and his sister Hannah (Henderson) help her navigate the dangerous world she’s found herself in?
“I love Daphne du Maurier’s novels and it’s been a lifelong dream to adapt Jamaica Inn,” said Frost. “I hope I have done justice to this wonderful tale of morality, survival and desire.”
Director Phillippa Lowthorpe added, “I love Jamaica Inn because it is an exhilirating adventure story set in a wild landscape with brilliant characters, and at its heart is Mary Yellan – a fantastic female heroine. I am delighted that Jessica Brown Findlay is going to play this bold and opinionated, courageous but naive young woman, whose curiosity and fiery nature get her into big trouble. To have Jessica, along with such talented actors as Sean Harris, Joanne Whalley and Matthew McNulty – it’s my dream cast.”
Jamaica Inn begins filming this week on location in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria.