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We know we’re in the midst of award season, but we hope you’re keeping up with Downton Abbey! Just as the wildly popular show’s fifth season began to air on PBS this month, Joanne Froggatt picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Anna Bates (nee Smith), the spunky lady’s maid who is loyal to both her valet husband, John Bates, and her mistress, Mary Crowley.
In season four, Froggatt was tasked with the responsibility for carrying a difficult storyline when Anna was raped by a visiting valet. Having to approach sensitive material of that nature would be daunting for any actor, but Froggatt had the added pressure of figuring out how a woman in the 1920’s would have dealt with a violent sexual assault. Froggatt gave Anna a quiet dignity and strength as she struggled to keep her emotions in check and behave as if the unspeakable had not happened. Her powerful performance earned Froggatt her first solo accolade for her stellar work in the series.
It is equally impressive that during the filming of Downton Abbey, Froggatt made two independent films: UWantMe2KillHim? and Still Life. In UWantMe2KillHim?, Frogratt plays Sarah Clayton, a pregnant detective inspector obsessed with finding out why a teen stabbed another teen in an alley way. Froggatt poignantly conveys her character’s internal conflict as her maternal instincts send her in one direction although the facts of the case lead her down another path. Never grating or abusive, Froggatt’s Sarah uses her intellect to find the answers she seeks.
Still Life, which opens today in theaters, features Froggatt in a vastly different type of supporting role, confirming her amazing adaptability. Froggatt plays Kelly Stoke, the daughter of an incarcerated criminal whom she hasn’t spoken to in nearly two decades. When a gentle, but isolated case worker named John May (Eddie Marsan) delivers the news that her father has passed, Froggatt’s Sarah is shocked, but silent—letting the emotions associated with years of separation, sorrow and anger wash over her face. Though Froggatt’s Kelly softens once she learns of her father’s remorse, she keeps her guard up until she begins a timid friendship with Marsan’s May.
Given her versatility, intelligence, and sensitivity, we predict that Froggatt will be an actress sought after by indie filmmakers in between seasons of Downton Abbey and afterwards. Still Life is currently available on VOD/iTunes and is now playing at Quad Cinema in NYC.