Jessica Brown Findlay: ‘My worst job? Waitressing – there was constant groping’

Born in Berkshire, Jessica Brown Findlay, 31, trained as a ballet dancer. She was studying fine art when she was cast in Downton Abbey. In 2017, she played Ophelia to Andrew Scott’s Hamlet, on stage and then on film. Her recent TV work includes Harlots and Brave New World; her new film The Banishing is released on 26 March. She is married to the actor Ziggy Heath and lives in London.

When were you happiest?
My wedding day last year. It was supposed to be 4 April and, in the end, it was 12 September.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My nan. She lost her husband at the end of 2019 and over the past year she’s been in isolation, but every single week when we speak, she’s full of hope.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
When I met singer-songwriter Laura Marling, one of my all-time heroes. I froze and said, “Thank you for the music.” I quoted Abba at her and then ran away.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
Disco.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
It wouldn’t get green-lit.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Picking scabs.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A ballet dancer. I danced from age two to 19. Giving up was not a choice; I had complications in an ankle operation.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m sorry. Old habits die hard.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
I’ve said it too early, in hope.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“You will be dead in a year.” Who? I can’t say. It came from someone’s desire to scare me.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
My younger self: I had no love for her and I was cruel and she never deserved it.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Boris Johnson: I don’t think there’s enough space to explain why.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I used to do silver service waitressing at parties and events. The job was great, but there was constant harassment and groping from older men, and I hadn’t found my voice yet. It’s terrifying when you are young and you need a job.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Spending over half my life under Tory rule.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
My password. [In 2014, Brown Findlay’s iCloud account was hacked.]

When did you last cry, and why?
During lockdown, I found out I wasn’t pregnant any more.

How do you relax?
Cooking and dancing; I am quite good at doing both at the same time.

How often do you have sex?
I’m a newlywed, so…

What keeps you awake at night?
The thought of infinity.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don’t wait, do – and graft at it.

The Guardian

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