Laura Haddock breaks down her “diva” Downton Abbey character

Laura Haddock has explained the film history behind her “diva” character in Downton Abbey: A New Era.

The British actress is best known for her roles in television series such as Netflix’s Ibiza-set thriller White Lines and as Megan Cantor in Luther, plus film roles including The Inbetweeners Movie.

Laura Haddock breaks down her “diva” Downton Abbey character

Now Laura Haddock has joined the world’s biggest period drama franchise by portraying silent movie goddess Myrna Dalgleish in Downton Abbey: A New Era.

Arriving in Downton to star in a new silent picture being filmed on the estate in the film, Myrna’s arrival causes a stir among her fans in the house, including lady’s maid Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) and assistant cook Daisy Parker (Sophie McShera).

However, Myrna is not all that she appears to be to the servants of Downton.

Speaking to, Laura Haddock discussed her glamorous new role in the film sequel.

On joining the machine that is the Downton Abbey franchise, Haddock revealed: “It’s slightly daunting at first because I’m a fan of the show. 

“And you know, it’s always like, your heart’s pounding before you start any job, but when you’re a big fan of it…”

Haddock said she was “really thrilled and really grateful to have got the job, especially on the back of what we’d all just come out of I think”.

She added: “I remember specifically it was March 8th, International Women’s Day, my agent called and said, ‘Simon Curtis wants to talk to you about Downton Abbey’.

“I sort of dropped to my knees and was like, ‘Yeah, my kids have gone back to school. I can go be an actress again’ and the industry is like, you know, chugging away and trying to get us all back out there and then these guys are just honestly – without sounding too mushy – they are the best.

“They love each other they have such a great chemistry on set on and off-set, you’re an amazing, amazing company to join. So very quickly felt very, very comfortable.”

Silent Film Actress Norma Talmadge
Silent film actress Norma Talmadge was an inspiration for Laura Haddock when filming Downton Abbey: A New Era PhotPhoto by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

While the British actress is portraying a fictional character in the film, Haddock revealed that there were real-life inspirations for Myrna Dalgleish.

“I kind of dove deep into my research in and around the actresses that working at that time and all went through this big shift in their career,” noted Haddock. “Norma Talmadge was one that I was really kind of obsessing over. 

“And I learned and realise that a lot of these women, they had maybe a six, seven-year career and then towards the end of their 20s, early 30s, their career was done. That was them. That was it.”

So, the arc of Myrna in Downton Abbey: A New Era – which also introduces Dominic West as Myrna’s co-star Guy Dexter and Hugh Dancy as her director Jack Barber – felt even more important for Haddock considering where the film industry has gotten today.

Laura Haddock stars as Myrna Dalgleish in Downton Abbey: A New Era
Laura Haddock stars as Myrna Dalgleish in Downton Abbey: A New Era Focus Features

Haddock concluded: “And what was very interesting to me was Myrna’s battle was with finding her voice and accent actually, a lot of these actors and actresses’ battle was learning a language because a lot of them who were the big movie stars of the time weren’t English speaking. 

“So if you’re working in Hollywood, that was, I mean, you done and somebody else was recast. So yeah, I got pretty obsessive about the time and you know, and it informs what we’re doing today. Right? 

“So it was doubly as interesting to me that I was looking and researching this character, but also it’s cool to know how our careers have progressed in the way that they have because of these moves that the industry made and what the actors within the industry had to put up with.”