Like many of her co-stars on "Downton Abbey" (ITV/PBS, 2010- ), British actress Jessica Brown Findlay, who played the socially conscious Lady Sybil Crawley on the series, was elevated from relative ob...
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Born Sept. 14, 1989 in the Berkshire county village of Cookham, England, Jessica Brown Findlay was the elder of two daughters by financial adviser Christopher Findlay and his wife, Beverley, a former nurse teacher's assistant. Her unusual surname was the result of her great-grandfather's decision to incorporate his middle name into his family name. Findlay fell in love with ballet at an early age, training with the National Youth Ballet and Associates of the Royal Ballet before receiving an invitation to dance with the Kirov Ballet at the Royal Opera House for a summer season. After completing her secondary education, she attended the Arts Educational School in London, but a series of operations on her ankles effectively ended her dream of becoming a professional dancer. Findlay then fell back on her second choice, acting, which she studied at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and Central Saint Martin's College of Arts.
After making her debut opposite Michael Fassbender in the 2009 short "Man on a Motorcycle," Findlay was cast as a rebellious teen who became embroiled in the lives of a failed writer and his neurotic family in the independent drama "Albatross" (2011). While the picture made the festival circuit prior to theatrical release, she was cast as the headstrong Lady Sybil Crawley on "Downton Abbey." The youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham, Lady Sybil was a fierce campaigner for the rights of the oppressed, most notably the women's and Irish nationalist movement. Her romance with chauffeur Tom Branson (Allen Leech) introduced her to the latter conflict, which eventually prompted the couple to leave London and marry in Dublin. The happiness of reconciliation with the Crawley family was soon shattered by the death of Lady Sybil during the birth of her daughter in the series' third season.
The worldwide acclaim showered upon "Downton Abbey" was soon echoed by critical praise for Findlay's performance in "Albatross," which reached theaters in 2011. She earned Most Promising Newcomer nominations from both the British Independent Film Awards and the Evening Standard British Film Awards in 2011 and 2012, respectively, before embarking on several television projects, including the epic miniseries "Labyrinth" (Channel 4, 2012), produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott. She soon returned to features, making her American film debut with the drama "Lullaby" (2012) with Garrett Hedlund and Amy Adams, and the grand fantasy "Winter's Tale" (2013), which cast her opposite star Colin Farrell and a supporting cast that included Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt.
By Paul Gaita
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.