'Downton Abbey': Lady Edith's Laura Carmichael can make a martini and watch your kids

Zap2it: Did you land "Downton Abbey" soon after finishing school?

Laura Carmichael: It was 2 1/2 years after. I was about six months without an agent, and I was scooching around, doing parts here and there.

Zap2it: What were you working as?

Laura Carmichael: I was a waitress, a barmaid and a nanny.

Zap2it: What was the audition like?

Laura Carmichael: I auditioned without having seen any pages for the script. It was completely cold. I was off to play Viola in the "Twelfth Night" in Dubai. And I thought (of "Downton"), "Maybe no one will see this." I am going to turn down Viola for two lines? I thought I would be a maid; I knew it was period. And I knew it was Julian ( Fellowes). I thought it would be two or three lines. Oh, my goodness! It is a real part. 

Then they sent me the first episode. By the fifth episode, when she writes to the embassy, I was hooked and obsessed, and I can see myself in bed reading about the Turkish diplomat and Mary going, "I am quite sure he is dead." Then I heard that I was down to the last two. It was a lie because I saw two others go in. I had to turn down the Shakespeare play, and I had an agonizing weekend. I read again, and I loved it so much. I can do this, and I did feel an odd sense of calm about it. It was my first real job. It's mad.
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