During our recent webcam chat (watch below), Joanne Froggatt admitted to being initially wary of what was to befall her “Downton Abbey” character during the most recent season. She plays lady’s maid Anna Bates who was sexually assaulted by a visiting valet. For the actress, “the main thing that goes through my mind is of people that went through similar experiences that are watching the show, those viewers who connect with this character and the situation … it is my responsibility to do a good job for those people.”
For Froggatt, meeting with the show’s historical advisor was immensely helpful in understanding her character’s reaction to the rape: “He put me in the mindset of a working class woman in the 1920s. He reminded me that all a woman of Anna’s social standing had was her reputation. Unfortunately at that time, society would have seen it [the assault] as a mar on her character.” As such, “if it became public knowledge she could her husband, her job because it could bring disrepute to the house and her reputation and a good reference which would leave her destitute.”
In 2012, Froggatt reaped an Emmy bid for Best Drama Supporting Actress but lost that race to co-star Maggie Smith who plays the redoubtable dowager countess that dominates the household. Should she be nominated this year, she remains unsure as to her episode submission: “Obviously episode three is dramatic when the attack happens but possibly the more interesting part of the story is episode four and five when Anna is struggling to come to terms with what happened to her. She can’t express herself to Mr. Bates and there is that whole emotional journey.”
When filming wraps on season five this summer, Froggatt heads straight into rehearsals for the West End premiere of “Rabbit Hole.” She is taking on the part that earned Cynthia Nixon a Tony and Nicole Kidman an Oscar nomination, that of a grieving mother coming to terms with the accidental death of her little boy. To find out just who offerered her this plum part (you won’t believe it), watch our webcam chat below.
Will Froggatt win Best Drama Supporting Actress at this year’s Emmys? After watching the webcam chat, vote using our easy drag-and-drop menu.