Laura Carmichael Q&A: ‘Downton Abbey’
"Edith has really evolved as a character over the series," reflects Laura Carmichael about her character on the PBS period drama "Downton Abbey." As she explains during our recent webcam chat, "Last year was a special one because it saw her quite isolated from the rest of the gang. Going through this turmoil of being separated from her daughter… was an isolating, emotional journey."
Edith had been hiding her illegitimate child with an local couple so that she could visit regularly. However, as it was tearing her apart, though, she eventually brought the child home. "It was beautiful. Every script moved me, and Julian (Fellowes) writes for women so beautifully," says the actress. "He is really interested in the timeframe of pre-war and the 20s with such interesting changes for women."
When the series began, Edith was the neglected middle daughter, largely ignored by the rest of the aristocratic Crawley clan. Carmichael explains her transformation over five seasons thus: "The war did a lot for women of this era. Certainly for Edith, she discovered a role for herself and what it's like to feel useful." She reflects, "series one Edith would be surprised at where she ended up. She thought she had all the answers and was hit by life happening."
"Downton Abbey" took home a second Screen Actors Guild Award as Best TV Drama Ensemble this past January and Carmichael was one of the cast on-hand. "I can't tell you how surprised we were. I wanted to apologize for our completely ad-hoc made-up speech." She admits, "It's such a brilliant award because we do feel like an ensemble show… I took it home, but it was really heavy when I took it through the airport."