Home Television “Downton Abbey” Bests “Homeland” at SAG Awards, Lady Sybil Gets Ready for...

WITH SPOILERS Well, well. If, like me, you can’t stand to hear one more person mention “Homeland,” the win at the SAG Awards last night for “Downton Abbey” was really a vindication. As the third season of the UK costume drama brings darkness to the Crawley family, they at least finally got a reward for top notch work: Best Ensemble, Drama. And that’s what they are, of course, the very best ensemble even as some members of the cast are being written off. Last night, just as “Downton” won its award, Jessica Brown Findlay, the cherubic and politically minded Lady Sybil. bid farewell to the show. Her illness? Death by contract–actually eclampsia.

The “Downton” actors only committed to three seasons up front, and a few of them are jumping ship, hoping to become big stars. Dan Stevens — aka Matthew– exits at the end of this season while he’s on Broadway in “The Heiress” with Jessica Chastain. Matthew is starting to give a comic cross eyed look during every scene, as if he’s in a Zucker-Abrams parody of “Downton,” so maybe it’s best Matthew meets his maker rather sooner than later. This is not “Downtown Abbey,” quite.

Lady Sybil was already off camera quite a bit, and her character wasn’t as well defined as Mary or snippy Edith. Findlay-Brown is not disappearing, however. She’s got a bunch of films in the can already including including Akiva Goldsman’s “Winter’s Tale,” set in New York in the 1800s.This is based on Mark Helprin’s wonderful novel. Colin Farrell is her co-star.

Findlay Brown has a great agent in Esther Chang at WME, who also represents Dan Stevens and Lady Mary, Michelle Dockery, Findlay Brown is also managed by Susan Bymel, who I think we can agree has done a pretty fair job with Anne Hathaway. No, even as the Crawleys mourn Sybil they may take solace in the fact that she’s left them for the bright lights of Hollywood.

PS Just looking at pictures from last night of “Downton”‘s Mrs. Hughes, Phyllis Logan, was quite glamorous, It made me a little sad that Mrs. Hughes is total fiction–but shows you what a good actress Logan is– as well as the rest of that terrific ensemble.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
4 replies to this post
  1. After watching Lady Sybil die and sobbing my eyes out, and crying all over again with the closing scene of Tom Branson in the window holding his baby daughter, I am so happy to hear that Findley-Brown will be coming to Hollywood! makes me feel a little better. congratulations to all…but where is Maggie Smith in all the pictures? I will prepare myself for a rather sad third season conclusion….every character is my favorite!

  2. Why do you always refer to Lady Edith as snippy and mean? She has not bean mean or nasty since Season One. Since Season Two and the War she has been kind and sweet!

  3. My husband and I were shattered last night when Lady Sybil died of eclampsia, it felt like losing one of the family, and although this is fiction, it has also become a big part of our Masterpiece classic on PBS. We realised that Jessica Browne Findlay has a big future in front of her, with her stunning looks and amazing sultry voice. It is such a shame that they had to write her out of the drama in this way. I also read that Matthew may be leaving Downton at the end of the season, does this mean that downton is slowly falling apart, when it brings so much joy to thousands.
    On a final note my own Mother died of eclampsia when I was seven years old and the baby died with her, she had kidney problems, perhaps to-day she might have been saved.

  4. Whatever people may think about “Downton Abbey’s” writing and soap opera plotting there’s no denying that that the entire cast is outstanding. How appropriate that they won this award the same night that an episode illustrating their brilliance was airing on most PBS stations. And how nice that voters recognized that “Homeland” is not the only drama on television (bravo to Bryan Cranston too!).

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