The good news for Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey, is that there is life after leaving the most popular period drama on Planet Earth. With the second episode of the new season topping out a 9.5 million viewers in the UK on Sunday night, the thought of leaving had to be a very difficult decision for both Findlay and her series co-star, Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley), who abruptly left at the conclusion of series three.
While it’s still way too early in the game to tell for both Brown Findlay or Stevens, it’s not looking like a regrettable decision for either as the actress will star as Mary Yellan in a new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn appearing alongside The Paradise‘s Matthew McNulty. Set in the late 19th century, Jamaica Inn tells the story of Mary who is forced to move in with her Aunt Patience 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, whom she quickly discovers is the head of a smuggling ring.
After leaving Downton Abbey during season two when her character, Lady Sybil, died in childbirth, Brown Findlay admitted she had been afraid of becoming “…too comfortable in the role” saying she she had not wanted to play Lady Sybil for years and then “…discover it was the only thing I could do.”
Both Findlay and Stevens, as have a number of actors who have portrayed the Traveling Time Lord over the years, have expressed fears of becoming ‘too comfortable’ or ‘typecast’ in their current roles and then faced the reality of leaving a series that is both a huge audience hit and critically acclaimed beyond belief. A decision you can either look back on as the right decision or regret the rest of your career. After a brief stint on American Broadway in “The Heiress”, Stevens can be seen in the upcoming Wikileaks feature, “The Fifth Estate”, starring Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, and then join Liam Neeson in “A Walk Among The Tombstones”.
Jamaica Inn, the three-part drama, which has been dramatized by The White Queen screenwriter Emma Frost begins filming this week on location in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria.