Former Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay has revealed how “shocked” she was at the amount of grief her on-screen death caused.
Brown Findlay’s Downton Abbey character, Lady Sybil Crawley, was unexpectedly killed off mid-way through last year’s series of the epic ITV period drama, in a cruel twist of fate having just given birth to her first daughter, little Syby.
The death came as a huge shock to everyone, with ITV managing to keep details of it completely secret until the episode aired, and ever since Downton fans across the world have been in mourning.
Brown Findlay’s departure from the show marked what seemed to be a trend amongst the main and most popular cast members, with her on-screen brother-in-law and cousin, Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley, quitting at the end of the series, meaning his character too was killed off!
After that, and literally days before series four began filming, Siobhan Finneran, who played ladies maid Sarah O’Brien revealed that she too would not be returning, but her status in the house as a servant meant that she didn’t have to be killed off, though whether she is or not remains to be seen.
Many have speculated that with such a mass exodus from the much loved show, things could never be the same again, which may have contributed to the torrent of messages and expressions of sadness that Jessica received when her on-screen exit was broadcast.
Explaining the reaction to the Huffington Post UK, Jessica explained:
“The day Sybil died I was flying out to film in New York,
“Normally when you land somewhere, you get a couple of messages, but I had an onslaught from people saying, ‘You could have warned me’.
“Even my parents knew I was dying, but they didn’t know how, so my mum was in bits. My dad had to tell her, ‘You can call her on the phone’.”
The actress went on to explain her reasons for leaving the show:
“Julian [Fellowes] did such an amazing job with Sybil that it was a really exciting way to go out. I had to keep very quiet about it.
“I was desperate to do more, to push myself creatively.
“I’d been off to do Black Mirror, Misfits and Labyrinth during a gap, and it was such a fruitful time, and I learned so much.”
Watch Lady Sybil’s emotional exit in the clip below: