Jessica Brown Findlay explains why she quit playing Sybil in ‘Downton Abbey’

Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay has revealed why she decided to leave the show.

The 29-year-old English actress played Lady Sybil Crawley in the first three seasons of ITV’s hit period drama series, until Sybil’s tragic death following complications during childbirth.

Since then, she’s appeared in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Black Mirror, England Is Mine, Harlots and the BBC’s adaptation of Jamaica Inn.

With the upcoming Downton Abbey movie set for release in cinemas this autumn, Brown Findlay has been chatting about the surprise success of the show.

Speaking to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, she recalled: “It was the end of the first series and it was right as the last episode had aired, and I was in Soho.

“I was still at university, I was at art school, and I walked past a newsstand and there were the three [Crawley] sisters on the front of two or three different newspapers, saying that 14 million people had watched it. I had a big freak-out.”

Discussing the international fandom for Downton Abbey, Brown Findlay said: “Yeah, it was sold to 100 and something countries. It broke records and it was really unexpected.”

She joked: “I just thought it was this sort of quiet little period drama!”

Looking back at her decision to quit the role of Sybil after just 20 episodes, the actress explained: “I was incredibly grateful for what Downton became and did, but it was my second job and I knew nothing about what I was doing.

“I really wanted to learn more. I had so much more I wanted to go and learn.”

Written by Downton creator Julian Fellowes, the movie finished filming last November and will feature (almost) the entire main cast of the TV series returning to their roles.

A new trailer was screened last week, revealing new plot details for the movie, including the arrival of some very important Royal visitors!

Jessica Brown Findlay previously revealed that she has battled an eating disorder since she was a teenager.

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