Belfast Telegraph

Joanne Froggatt: We need to be talking more about sexual violence issues

The star said she was shocked by the outrage that followed her brutal Downton scene

Actress Joanne Froggatt urged people to talk more openly about curbing sexual violence as she relived her character’s rape scene in Downton Abbey.

She said she was shocked when the scene, which saw household maid Anna Smith brutally attacked, triggered outage from viewers and media headlines.

The 37-year-old told the Radio Times magazine: “I didn’t expect that scene to be so controversial.

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“I suppose people didn’t expect a show like Downton to tackle the subject of rape, you don’t see too much of those sorts of things in period drama.

“But sexual violence against women is a horrific thing, and the fact that the press and audiences seemed shocked, shocked me.

“I don’t know why as a society we find that subject so shocking to talk about. The more we talk about it, the better.”

Her role in the hit show, alongside the likes of Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter through all six seasons, propelled her to fame and she is now taking centre stage of new politically-embedded thriller series, Liar.

“Downton Abbey has changed my life,” she said.

“Having opportunities to do amazing things like tour the White House came from doing that show, and I’ll always be grateful.”

Speaking of filming for the ITV show – where she plays teacher Laura alongside Ioan Gruffudd – she continued: “It was incredible. We went to the Oval Office, and the Situation Room. There was no situation, so it was okay.”

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It follows her role last year portraying Britain’s first serial killer Mary Ann Cotton in Dark Angel, a job she got after joking about her interest in playing a murderer.

She explained: “When Downton came to an end, someone asked me what role I would like to do next, and I jokingly replied, ‘Something completely different, like a murderer’.

“And the producers of Dark Angel immediately sent me the script.”

Joking about her next big role, she added: “I’ve just been offered something, but I can’t talk about it yet…I’m obviously going be the first female James Bond. Move over, Daniel Craig.”

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine.

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