EXCLUSIVE: Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay has joined the cast of Steven, the Mark Gill-directed biopic of iconic British singer Morrissey. Findlay stars opposite Jack Lowden in the lead role of the movie that follows the character from his early life in the 1970s before he went on to become the lead singer in seminal 1980s band The Smiths. She will play Linder Sterling, an English visual artist, performance artist and musician from Liverpool who became a close friend of Morrissey.

Gill has written the script with William Thacker, his collaborator on the 2014 Oscar-nominated short The Voorman Problem. HanWay is handling sales on the project which starts principal photography in April. Entertainment One has taken UK rights.

Now known only as Morrissey (and sometimes dubbed the “Pope of Mope”), Manchester native Steven Patrick Morrissey founded The Smiths with Johnny Marr in 1982. Steven will chart Morrissey’s years immediately before the formation of the band, and shine a light on how an awkward teenager escaped a dead-end existence to build a legendary songwriting partnership with Marr. The Smiths sold millions of records worldwide before the group broke up in 1987. Morrissey went on to a successful solo career.

Orian Williams (Control) and Gill’s Voorman Problem partner Baldwin Li are producing.

Findlay has established herself as one of the UK’s most exciting young actresses. Aside from her turn as Lady Sybil Branson in Julian Fellowes’ rating juggernaut Downton Abbey, her credits include The Riot Club, Jamaica Inn and The Outcast. She plays the lead in Simon Abboud’s forthcoming This Beautiful Fantastic opposite Andrew Scott, Jeremy Irvine and Tom Wilkinson. She is repped by Troika Talent, WME and Management 360.