The journey matters as much as the destination. By engaging in the moment on set, I've stopped rushing and now find pleasure in the collaborative process - the characters, the costumes - rather than worrying about the finished product.
Playing Isabella in 'Measure for Measure' pushed me to my limits. Janet Suzman was directing, and she was very hard on me. I went through phases of not liking her at the time, but I loved her for it in the end.
'Expect nothing and hope for the best' is my mantra. A drama teacher called Joseph Blatchley told me that, and it's the best advice I've had. If you keep an open mind and don't expect too much, then you won't be disappointed.
Shakespeare is renewed each time you see it or read it. I've seen 'Midsummer Night's Dream' so many times, and each time it's a little different, or a different line leaps out at me. It's like re-reading a good book over and over, always noticing something you hadn't seen the time before - and that's rare.
My dad worked all sorts of jobs when I was growing up and finally ended up as a surveyor; my mum delivers meals to old folk around where we live. We didn't have much money when I was growing up, but I had a very happy childhood.
I think the first time I realised 'Downton Abbey' was a hit was when I was sitting in a tea shop in New York and the couple next to me were talking about 'Downton Abbey,' and then they recognised me.
My godchildren went to see Taylor Swift in concert and got to meet her. They literally ran toward her and hugged her, and it was amazing. I got big bonus points for it. I'll remind them when they're teenagers.
We take so many of our freedoms for granted nowadays - I can travel where I like, I can do any job I want - but I think chivalry has been lost a little bit.
I come from a very working-class background, so my family would have been downstairs in the past, as opposed to upstairs. People are often quite surprised to hear that, that I'm not actually posh.
I had dance training from a very young age, 3 or 4... It taught me how to present myself, about preparation and working in an ensemble, and it's something that carries with me to this day.
It is impossible to watch a 'Friends' episode too many times. Phoebe is my favourite character. I used to play her songs on the guitar when I was a teenager. 'Smelly Cat' is very easy. It's only about three chords.
Shakespeare and his work will always be relevant. He wrote those pieces hundreds of years ago and we haven't really changed as humans, have we? We have to deal with love, honour and adultery now - people were the same then, too - that's what's so wonderful and powerful.
I think some period drama can be quite alienating, but 'Downton' isn't. This is going to sound quite, um, pretentious, but someone said that it's like a soap written by a poet.
The kitchen is the most important place in any house. Visit your family, and that's where you'll end up. Go to a party, that's where everyone congregates.
I loved the 'Die Hard' films growing up and the 'Taken' movies. They're so entertaining, and I enjoy being on the edge of my seat.
I'm quite surprised at how out of control I can be on stage because, actually, I find I like to be in control in life. It's quite freeing, really.
I've had moments of thinking maybe I should go on Twitter. It's something that I've been shy about, and I've thought that maybe I should do it.
'Downton Abbey' has become this huge thing, and I really enjoy the success of it, but I sometimes find myself on the outside looking in, which is sort of a healthy way to look at it so you don't get too caught up in it.
I think the success of 'Downton' is partly because there are effectively 18 leading characters, all given equal importance, so it's enormously involving on many levels. But also, it's a new story. It's not like Dickens or Austen, where everyone knows the denouement.
I'm not accident prone, really, but I was cutting something and sort of lost control, and it went through my big toe. There was a lot of blood and I nearly fainted, but its totally fine now.