siobhan finneran downton 'Downton Abbey's' Siobhan Finneran: O'Brien 'doesn't wish [Bates] as much harm as you first might think'“Downton Abbey” has had a couple “villains” since the show’s inception and one of them is the scheming, meddlesome Sarah O’Brien, played by Siobhan Finneran. She tells ET Online that she finds O’Brien very funny and actually really likes her character.

“I really, really like her so that helps a great amount and I find her very funny and a little bit naughty. I think when we first saw her, everyone assumed she would be Cruella De Vil or the Wicked Witch of the West — but there’s so much more going on beneath that,” says Finneran.

“I think sometimes her severity and the way she is with the other people in the house, comes down to the fact that she’s completely brilliant at her job and will never let anything take that away from her,” she continues. “She doesn’t like to be out of control and is more aware of everybody in the house more than anybody else is.”

Finneran also says that “soap-gate” weighs heavily on O’Brien’s mind.

“She’s also become very protective of [Lady Cora] and won’t let anybody really near her to do any harm at all. It comes from that huge sense of guilt,” says Finneran. “She’s holding on to a tremendous amount of guilt over Soap-gate, as we call it, and she tries to make amends for that. With interesting results.”

And could O’Brien possibly be softening towards her (self-decided) nemesis Mr. Bates?

“As this season goes on, you see that really she doesn’t wish him as much harm as you first might think,” says Finneran.

“Downton Abbey” airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."