Joanne Froggatt

Dark Angel and Our Obsession with Serial Killers

This Sunday, PBS will air the BBC's production of Dark Angel, which focuses on the life of Mary Ann Cotton, one of the 19th century's most prolific serial killers, and one that you've mostly likely never heard of.

What drives a killer to take the lives of those around them? This is a question that has an entire subgenre of entertainment devoted to it, from true crime novels, to Lifetime movies, to tevision specials on the Discovery Channel to podcasts like Serial. But most of these focus on male killers -- your John Wayne Gacys, your Ted Bundys, your Jack the Rippers. But this weekend, Masterpiece presents a dramatic miniseries that focuses on one of the lesser known serial killers of the 1800s, Mary Anne Cotton, whose death count may in fact be higher than any of those mentioned above. 

The 'Downton Abbey' Cast: What Are They Up To Now?

(Photo: (Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television for MASTERPIECE)

It’s been a few months since we sadly had to say farewell to period drama Downton Abbey and the many popular stars that comprised its cast. Knowing that come this January, we won’t see the familiar faces of Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville or Maggie Smith on our screens every Sunday night still feels pretty surreal, and to be honest, is something we are all probably trying to avoid thinking about as much as possible.

But, even though Downton is gone (SNIFF), it doesn’t mean that we’ve said goodbye to all the great actors who played the Crawley clan forever. Many of the show’s stars have brand new projects in the works (many of which look markedly different from their respective roles when they were at Highclere). 

So let’s see what they’ve been up to, shall we? 

Joanne Froggatt as Mary Cotton in "Dark Angel" (Photo: Courtesy of ©JustinSleePhotography2015/MASTERPIECE)

Joanne Froggatt’s ‘Dark Angel’ to Air on Masterpiece in 2016

Joanne Froggatt’s next project after Downton Abbey is kind of…against type. Best known for playing the beloved, long-suffering Anna Bates, Froggat will next take on the role of infamous Victorian poisoner Mary Cotton in an upcoming two-part drama entitled Dark Angel.

The series will be aired on ITV in the UK, and will come to America shortly thereafter on PBS stations nationwide as part of PBS’s 2016 Masterpiece slate.

‘Downton Abbey’s’ Joanne Froggatt Signs on to Play a Victorian Serial Killer

One of the most interesting things about Downton Abbey drawing to a close is seeing what sorts of projects its many fantastic actors are signing up to do next after the doors of Highclere close forever. (Or at least until a prequel or sequel series gets greenlit; let’s all keep that dream alive.)

First out of the gate appears to be star Joanne Frogatt, who plays everyone’s favorite long suffering house-turned-ladies maid Anna Bates. Anna has certainly dealth with more than her fair share of tragedy over the course of Downton’s run – enduring a brutal rape, suffering through her husband’s lengthy trial for murder and eventually ending up arrested herself at the end of last season before having her name cleared. So, after playing such a long-suffering character, it’s no surprise that Frogatt seems to have gone in a completely different direction for her first post-Downton gig.

She’ll be starring in a two-part drama for ITV called Dark Angel, which aims to tell the story of Victorian poisoner Mary Cotton, who used adultery, bigamy, fraud and murder to “better” herself socially and financially before being convicted and hanged for her crimes in 1873.

Watch: An In-Depth Chat with ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Joanne Froggatt

Since we’re all undergoing fairly severe Downton Abbey withdrawal by this point, most of us will gladly sit through anything we can get that might even be tangentially related to the show. Luckily, getting to watch a fairly lengthy new interview with Joanne Froggatt, who plays everyone’s favorite housemaid-turned-ladies-maid Anna Bates, doesn’t even feel like cheating. So, why not do that?

Buzzfeed editor Jarrett Wieselman sat down with the Emmy-nominated actress recently as part of a special event for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles, which involved a screening followed by a Q&A session. Happily, it was recorded for those of us who don’t have SAG cards. The two chat for about forty-five minutes on a variety of topics, ranging from Froggatt’s early days as an actress, to her initial reaction to the script for Downton Abbey, to her experiences filming on the set.

And of course, she really digs in to Anna’s character and the responsibility she herself felt in being truthful to the character during her intense – and much darker – scenes this past season.

It’s well worth a watch if you’ve got a few minutes to spare!