Jessica Brown Findlay
|Jessica Brown Findlay|
|Born||Jessica Rose Brown Findlay
(1989-09-13) 13 September 1989
Cookham, Berkshire, England
Jessica Rose Brown Findlay (born 13 September 1989) is an English actress, most widely known for her performance as Lady Sybil Crawley in the ITV (UK) and PBS (U.S.) acclaimed television period drama series Downton Abbey, and for her role as Emelia Conan Doyle in the 2011 British comedy-drama feature film Albatross.
In 2014, she starred as Beverly Penn in the film adaptation of the Mark Helprin novel Winter’s Tale. In 2015, she co-starred in Paul McGuigan’s Victor Frankenstein as Lorelei, the Esmerelda-like acrobat. In 2016, she joined the cast of the new biopic feature film, Steven, about the early life and career of English singer Morrissey, who co-founded the indie rock band The Smiths.
In 2017, Brown Findlay portrays Charlotte Wells, a madam’s daughter and prostitute, in Harlots, a period drama television series screening on ITV Encore in the U.K. and on Hulu Plus in the U.S. The TV series focuses on Margaret Wells, who runs a brothel in 18th century England and struggles to raise her daughters in a chaotic household.
Brown Findlay lives in Cookham, Berkshire, where her mother is a teacher’s assistant and her father is a financial adviser. She stated to Vanity Fair in 2012, about how she spent her childhood in the small English village, that “I grew up there, as did my Mum. My Nan and Granddad are around the corner. It is a very familiar place and incredibly dear to my heart. It’s sort of quiet, but wonderfully so”.
Brown Findlay trained with the National Youth Ballet and the Associates of the Royal Ballet, and at age 15, she was invited to dance with the Kirov at the Royal Opera House for a summer season. She attended Furze Platt Senior School in Maidenhead. At the end of her GCSEs, she was accepted to a number of ballet schools, but chose to go to the Arts Educational School, because of the A-level courses it provided and its pastoral care. Brown Findlay attended for two years; in her second year, she had three operations on her ankles, the last of which went wrong. After being told she could never dance again, Brown Findlay decided to embark upon a career in acting, something she had always considered but had never tried. After encouragement from an art teacher, she finished her education at Arts Educational School, Tring Park and then moved on to a Fine Art course at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. In a 2012 interview with Vanity Fair, Brown Findlay stated, “Growing up, I was completely in love and infatuated with ballet. Ballet was my life completely”. However, after three ankle operations, she was forced to leave dancing behind and ended up at university in London, where she discovered the stage, to which she says, “Acting was the element from ballet that I actually loved and missed the most”.
Brown Findlay was cast in the lead role of seventeen year-old Emilia Conan Doyle, in the 2011 British coming-of-age comedy drama film directed by Niall MacCormick, co-starring Julia Ormond, Felicity Jones and Sebastian Koch. The film’s premise revolves around a teenage aspiring writer entering the lives of a dysfunctional family living in the south coast of England, with bookish young women meeting up with a peer who lacks any boundaries or inhibitions. Next, she was cast in two episodes of the British science fiction comedy-drama television show Misfits. Brown Findlay appeared in the first season finale as a wholesome religious girl whose superpower is convincing everyone to abandon their delinquent behavior in favor of celibacy.
Almost immediately after shooting her first major role, in Albatross, Brown Findlay landed the role of Lady Sybil Crawley in the ITV period drama television series Downton Abbey, which became her breakthrough role, as the youngest of the Grantham daughters. In a 2012 interview with Vanity Fair, Brown Findlay stated, “I thought this character of Sybil was fascinating, and I liked her modern attitude to life”. Brown Findlay was the first major cast member to leave the series for pastures new, when her character, the forward thinking Lady Sybil, died in childbirth in the third series. During a 2015 interview, Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes, discussed the plot twist, “Jessica [Brown Findlay, who played Sybil,] had said she was going to leave right from the beginning. She said, “I’m doing three years, then I’m leaving”, So that was all worked out”, Fellowes said of Lady Sybil’s death, which occurred shortly after she gave birth to her and Tom Branson’s baby daughter.
She next appeared as Abi in the Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits” with English actor Daniel Kaluuya. The episode imagined a dystopian future where people earn merits on exercise bikes in order to audition for reality TV judges.
In 2012, Brown Findlay became the face of Dominic Jones’ jewellery line, and she was cast in Not Another Happy Ending by John McKay, and in the miniseries Labyrinth, based on the novel of the same name written by Kate Mosse, portraying Alaïs Pelletier. In 2012, Brown Findlay was cast as Beverly Penn in the film adaptation of the novel Winter’s Tale (2014) with Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe.
Tim Burton considered Brown Findlay for the lead in his adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, but ultimately gave the role to Australian actress Mia Wasikowska. In March 2015, it was confirmed that she would star in the remake of The Crow, in which Brown Findlay portrayed Shelly.
In May 2015, Brown Findlay made her theatre debut at the Almeida Theatre, London, as Electra in a new adaptation of The Oresteia to rave reviews. The production later transferred to the Trafalgar Theatre in London’s West End. The writer and director was Robert Icke, who cast Brown Findlay in his production of Uncle Vanya at the same venue in February of the following year.
In 2017, Brown Findlay portrays Charlotte Wells. a madam’s daughter and prostitute, in Harlots, a period drama television series created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini. The series premiered on 27 March 2017 on ITV Encore in the U.K. and on 29 March 2017 on Hulu Plus in the U.S. The TV series focuses on Margaret Wells, who runs a brothel in 18th century England and struggles to raise her daughters in a chaotic household. The series is inspired by “The Covent Garden Ladies” by Hallie Rubenhold.
|2009||Man on a Motorcycle||Girl in Bed||Short film|
|2011||Albatross||Emelia Conan Doyle|
|2014||Winter’s Tale||Beverly Penn|
|2014||The Riot Club||Rachel|
|2016||This Beautiful Fantastic||Bella Brown|
|2017||Iris Warriors||Miss Shaw||Post-production|
|TBA||Guernsey||Elizabeth McKenna||Principal photography|
|2009, 2011||Misfits||Rachel||2 episodes|
|2010–2012||Downton Abbey||Lady Sybil Branson||20 episodes|
|2011||Black Mirror||Abi Khan||Episode: “Fifteen Million Merits“|
|2012||Labyrinth||Alaïs Pelletier du Mas||Miniseries (2 episodes)|
|2014||Jamaica Inn||Mary Yellan||Miniseries (3 episodes)|
|2015||The Outcast||Alice Aldridge||2 episodes|
|2017||Harlots||Charlotte Wells||TV series|
Awards and nominations
|2011||British Independent Film Awards||Most Promising Newcomer||Albatross||Nominated|
|2012||Evening Standard British Film Awards||Most Promising Newcomer||Albatross||Nominated|
|2016||Ian Charleson Awards||Uncle Vanya||Second Prize|