‘Downton Abbey’ star Phyllis Logan reveals 10 life experiences that formed her

Phyllis Logan is best known for her roles as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey and Lady Jane Felsham in Lovejoy.

She’s also appeared in episodes of Heartbeat, Wallander, Silent Witness, Vera, The Good Karma Hospital, and US crime series Bones.

The 64-year-old Scottish actress revealed in The Guardian newspaper some insights into her life and the experiences that have made her the person she is today.


1. Her strong work ethic

“My working-class parents, David and Betty, gave me a very strong work ethic by example rather than by preaching: they had both started work at 14. And they taught the three of us right from wrong, which has given me an inherent sense of justice.

“My father, a Rolls-Royce engineer, was a trade union leader: he became secretary of his local branch of the AUEW (the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers). If he had lived to see me playing the housekeeper, Mrs Hughes, in Downton Abbey, he would probably have been inciting all the servants to form a union!”


2. Her place in the family

“I was the youngest, and got away with a lot more than my brother, Cameron, and sister, Ann.

“As children, we always looked out for each other and settled our differences without punch-ups.”


3. Coming from a family of entertainers

“In my family, there are a lot of natural performers, although I’m the only one to become an actor. My mother and my aunt Maggie loved to sing and could pick out a harmony at the drop of a hat.”


4. How her father felt about her career choice

“My poor dad thought that I was going off the rails at drama school because I was often out so late at night, but I was just so absorbed by it all.

“Drama school was beyond my parents’ ken, even though they were delighted I was accepted.”


5. Her relationship with her parents

“I never confided in my mum and dad although I loved them. My generation didn’t discuss anything emotional with their parents.

“My father would have been totally embarrassed; it was a generational thing.”


6. The death of her father

“Dad died early, at 59, when I was still at drama school, so he never saw any of my career. He was in intensive care and on a life-support machine for several months; it was horrible.”


7. Her relationship with her husband – and falling for another actor!

“My husband, Kevin [McNally, the actor], is my closest confidant; that’s the way it should be with a partner. We make sure we speak to each other every day even if one or both of us is away working.

“It’s important to maintain contact – even if it’s only to discuss the car tax. I didn’t want to date another actor, because I thought they were vain. I always used to say that I would never have one in my house – but you can’t legislate for love.”


8. Being okay with not always being glamorous

“You have to be self-aware as an actor because your face is the raw material you work with, but I like to think I’m not vain.

“When I’m not working, I never go out without a bit of mascara, but as Mrs Hughes, I wore almost no makeup. I’m a character actress, I’m not an iconic beauty like Joan Collins.”


9. Becoming a mother

“I thought I didn’t want a child for years because my career was more important to me than having a family; I was so busy.

“It would have been nice to have had another child after our son, David, but it was tough enough having a baby for the first time at 40. But David doesn’t see himself as an only child because Kevin already had his daughter, Rachel, and his stepson, Peter.”


10. Her family values

“I have tried to pass on my parents’ values. As a stepmother, you are there to be a friend. It’s trickier when they are younger, but it gets better as they get older. David is now 20 and at university; his passion is music, although he might act later on, you never know.

“What I care about most for children is that they have passion and compassion. I think David has got both – as long as he keeps that in his head and his heart.”


Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.