The farm-raised actress is beautiful, charming and – sorry, guys! – about to get married

By Marisa Laudadio
Updated June 26, 2012 04:05 PM

On Downton Abbey, Anna Bates is the housemaid who keeps the Crawley family’s secrets safe.

In real life, the actress who plays her, Joanne Froggatt, couldn’t have been more forthcoming with PEOPLE about behind-the-scenes parties, the twists and turns of the upcoming season, and what it was like growing up on the moors – and her own big personal news.

So with Emmy voters this week casting their final ballots, here are five things to learn about Joanne Froggatt …

1. She grew up on a farm.
Froggatt, 31, grew up on a small farm in north Yorkshire, near the English border with Scotland, where she helped with the chores and played on the desolate landscape with her older brother.

“My dad had a flock of sheep, which he used to milk, and then my mum used to make cheese and yogurt out of the sheep’s milk and sell it. It was kind of an unusual upbringing really,” she says. “It’s very kind of Wuthering Heights where my parents house is, moors and deserted, really. It’s very wild and mystic. When the wind is going and the rain is lashing down, there’s something so romantic about the whole place.”

2. She’s getting married.
Fiancé James Cannon runs his own I.T. company, and is understanding of the demands of Froggatt’s show-biz career. The couple are set to marry later this year, and Froggatt has been frantically balancing wedding planning with filming the show and her upcomings movies, Filth (with James McAvoy and Jim Broadbent) and the indie Still Life.

“But this is what you hope for, really – you’ve just got to take these times and enjoy them and grasp them by the horns and go with it because there will be quiet times again in the future,” she says. “But I’m enjoying every minute of it at the moment.”

3. The Downton Abbey cast get along famously.

Don’t confuse the class divide on the show with what happens once the cameras stop rolling. The cast members “get along like a house on fire,” Froggatt says.

“There’s definitely been a few nights on the town with a bit of dancing involved,” she says.

4. She got an up-close look at the much-anticipated dramatic fireworks between newcomer Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith.
“This scene I was in, there’s an amazing little conversation between the two of them, a sort of snipey conversation,” Frogatt says. “It was like watching these two legends at work. It was one of the most special days I think I’ve ever had on set. It was magical.”

5. Anna Bates will come into her own.
Season 3 doesn’t air in the United States until January, but Froggatt offers a sneak peek.

“You do see her grow up that little bit more, and she’s a married lady now, she’s Mrs. Bates. She moves in to a more senior position in the house and she kind of becomes a woman,” Froggatt says. “And obviously her and Mr. Bates are having their turmoils again, so she’s fighting to free her man as well.”