The lovely and talented British actress Joanne Froggatt plays head housemaid Anna Bates in the insanely popular and beloved period drama Downton Abbey on Masterpiece on PBS. When she whirled through town recently to promote the upcoming premiere of the 3rd season, due out in January, we stole the Moschino-clad Brit away from her duties for a few moments to talk about her Downton family and playing the stalwart Anna.
Tell me a little about your view on the “slow burn” when it comes developing a connection in a romantic relationship, as you have with John Bates?
It’s getting back to the basics—developing a friendship first and foremost. It’s been great because John and Anna get a good amount of screen time devoted to their budding romance. Taking time with the relationship builds a foundation and makes for an enduring relationship. There are unspoken feelings of trust and faith between them, which is so nice. These days when people rush the process and worry it’s not progressing fast enough, the slow burn is a refreshing change of pace.
Are there any qualities about Anna that you don’t like?
No not really! She’s a positive character, a woman I would be best of friends with. She is a decent, loyal and trustworthy person, a great mix of everything. She is really nice but also strong at the same time, and speaks her mind when she feels the need. At the same time she can be pretty cheeky!
Have you learned anything from Anna that has helped you grow personally?
Since playing the role of Anna, I have been trying to master the ability to be more confident and sure in my decisions and values.
Season 3 of Downton Abbey has a guest appearance by the great actress Shirley MacLaine. Have you enjoyed her presence?
Shirley has been so incredible. I remember the first time seeing her on set. I walked in, and she was standing by a piano singing, with a big feather in her hair. It was quite surreal. She fit right in with the gang. At this point after three and a half years filming the show together we have become a great group, a nice family.
What do you think it is about the show, that makes it so irresistible?
I think it’s a great bit of storytelling. Everyone can find a character in it to relate to. It crosses all generations and walks of life. It’s gorgeous visually, just like a movie. It’s escapism at its best.
Downton Abbey premieres on PBS January 6, 2013.
Photography by Tina Turnbow