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Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Photo: Getty Images for Amazon Studios)

Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge once had a car-crash of an audition for Downton Abbeyaccording to a Hollywood Reporter roundtable interview with six top comedy showrunners published yesterday (June 8).

Okay, so on second thoughts, describing anything Downton-related as a “car crash” is liable to bring up difficult memories, so we apologize for the lack of a Matthew Crawley trigger warning there.

Yet “car crash” is really the only way to describe Phoebe’s audition for the megahit period drama…

During the roundtable discussion with TV comedy bosses including GirlsJudd ApatowBlack-ish‘s Kenya Barris and Veep‘s David Mandel, Phoebe was her usual self-deprecating and funny — not to mention potty-mouthed — self, joking about being a role model for women and how the Absolutely Fabulous ladies were her role models growing up.

Weren’t they for all of us, dahling?

It was her description of the Downton audition, however, that was most toe-curling — though she declined to say which role it was for.

“I went in,” she explained to her rapt fellow roundtable interviewees, “and I remember it was quite a serious part and I had really been auditioning for comedy for a couple of years and I was really thrilled to come in for this part, so I put my heart and soul into it.

“I went in thinking, ‘I’m going to give my best, sincere, heartbreaking performance.’ It was a really beautiful scene in a church; there’s a little clue. And I went in and I gave this really heartfelt audition, and when I finished, they were like, ‘We had no idea she was so f—ing hilarious!'”

Well, if Phoebe’s anything like her Fleabag character, then keeping a straight face in serious situations is not her forte.

She added: “I had really given myself, and they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re not right.'”

Ouch. We reckon Phoebe’s over it, though; and with a new season of Fleabag in the works, a role in the new Han Solo movie, and a showrunner gig for BBC America on Killing Eve, she’s certainly not short on work.

Can you imagine Phoebe in Downton Abbey?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.