The 21-year-old actor appearing in Downton Abbey and Albatross

Who is she?

A 21-year-old actor from Berkshire who took a couple of knocks before what one critic is calling a “star-making turn” in Albatross, a breezy new Brit comedy out on 2 September. She was back in London last week fresh from Bafta’s “Brits to watch” dinner in LA, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

What knocks, explain?

She was down to the last three for Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. She didn’t get it, which, she says, was probably just as well: “I’d have been on set, someone shouting ‘rolling’ and I’d be thinking, ‘I don’t know what that means.’” Acting was career plan No 3.

What was she doing before?

She trained as a ballet dancer but switched to painting aged 17 after botched ankle surgery. She studied fine art at Central Saint Martins in London, where she also took acting classes. Albatross is her debut, not that you can tell; she’s terrific as Emelia, who sleeps with her best friend’s dad. “You want to hate her. But you end up rooting for her,” she says.

Don’t I recognise her from somewhere?

Downton Abbey. After Albatross she got the part of the youngest Crawley sister, Sybil. One American glossy described her as “the best thing in a bonnet since Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice.”

Anything else coming up?

A new series of Downton Abbey. That gave her something to talk about with the HRHs. They’re huge fans, apparently.

Cath Clarke

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