Downton Abbey: A New Era – 10 facts you didn’t know about the new Downton Abbey movie

Samantha Bond stars as Lady Rosamund, Douglas Reith as Lord Merton, Harry Hadden-Paton as Lord Hexham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Hexham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Talbot, Penelope Wilton as Lady Merton, Robert James Collier as Thomas Barrow and Michael Fox as Andy in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release.

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

We know the new Downton Abbey movie sees the Crawleys jet off to the south of France.

But have you heard about the clashing characters, death rumours and film-set antics?

As the Downton Abbey 2 release date approaches, here are ten facts you need to know.

Downton Abbey: A New Era release date: April 29th

The new Downton Abbey movie is the funniest yet

We’ve tittered politely since the Downton TV series began in 2010, but it seems creator/screenwriter Julian Fellowes has raised the gag rate for this Downton Abbey sequel. Actor Jim Carter – who plays veteran butler Charles Carson – was the first to promise more humour. “We’ve seen the script,” he told This Morning back in 2020. “It’s very funny!”

Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Femail, Elizabeth McGovern (who plays the Countess of Grantham) agreed you should strap in. “Downton has always had a sort of murmuring tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, but this film brings that out a bit more.”

Hugh Bonneville stars as Robert Grantham and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release.

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

We’re promised the death of an “iconic” character

You’ve got your tickets and popcorn. But don’t forget to bring tissues to the new Downton Abbey movie.

In an interview with The Sun, a film-set insider reported that Fellowes wanted this Downton sequel to be “so poignant”, and that we’ll see an “iconic” character depart in tragic circumstances.

The unnamed source went on: “They really will leave fans in floods. It’s heartbreak at Highclere Castle and there won’t be a dry eye in cinemas.”

Penelope Wilton stars as Isobel Merton and Maggie Smith as Violet Grantham in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

But it won’t necessarily be Maggie Smith’s Dowager

Fellowes has always been ruthless about killing off his Downton Abbey cast, and with Violet Crawley revealing her illness at the end of the first film, we sensed the axe was dropping.

Good news! The Downton Abbey 2 trailer confirms Dame Maggie Smith’s snarky queen bee is alive and kicking, and she might even go the distance.

“We should remember that Maggie was by no means dead,” reasons Fellowes. "You imagine Violet is on her way out, but that decision hasn't been reached.”

The new Downton Abbey movie will have some unwelcome guests

If you watched the first Downton Abbey 2 trailer – or read our preview – you’ll already know the main plot sees the Crawleys visiting the south of France.

But Elizabeth McGovern has given more detail on the overlapping storyline – revealed in the follow-up Downton 2 trailer below – that sees the family’s iconic country estate swarmed by Hollywood movie stars as they shoot a movie there.

“You see this clash of cultures when Hollywood meets Downton,” the actress told The Daily Mail. “Because the family have to make some money, they allow the house to be used as a film set, but they're quite shocked when they're invaded by the movie business.”

In the same interview, McGovern also hinted at the roles of the new Downton Abbey 2 cast members.

“I'll never forget when I showed up on set for the first time and there was Dominic West as this Hollywood actor with Laura Haddock as a silent screen star and Hugh Dancy as the director. They're having a blast in this movie, it's their personas and the humour that they bring to it.”

 


Shooting the new Downton Abbey movie made Julian Fellowes emotional

More than a decade since he filmed the first episode, the Downton Abbey mastermind was overcome by the cast reunion.

“There was something rather extraordinary about the club reassembling,” he told WWD. “There we were in the Great Hall again. The actors were ten years older than they had been, when we cast them. Of course, in that time, the young ones particularly, have built careers.”

Fellowes added: “They are all pretty famous around the world now. That was pretty moving to me. In a way, I thought, ‘I’ve done this by imagining these people. We’ve found these actresses and actors to play them. By doing that, we’ve altered the course of their lives’. That seemed rather enormous.”

 


The new Downton Abbey movie intimidated Dominic West

After tangling with drug runners on US crime drama The Wire, you’d think a British period drama would hold no fears for Dominic West.

Think again. “It’s very daunting coming onto a show that’s been going for so long, that is such a big phenomenon and such a big success,” he said on the Downton Abbey Podcast.

“I’d never been to Highclere Castle before,” he added. “You go up the drive and you come over the brow of the hill and there it is."

Kevin Doyle stars as Mr. Molesley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

"It’s like some Disney castle and you can’t quite believe that it’s real.”

It seems the Dowager gave West a baptism of fire, too, with the actor recalling how he took a seat next to Maggie Smith “at the famous dining table”, and discovered she was “the funniest woman alive… and also the sort of cattiest!”

 


 

New cast member Hugh Dancy was cramming behind the scenes

Arriving on the new Downton Abbey movie set to play Jack Barber, the Black Hawk Down actor admits he had a steep learning curve. “I wasn't a big fan of the show when it was on TV,” he told the What To Watch website. “I wasn't an anti-fan or anything, it was just one of the shows that I hadn't particularly latched on to.”

Dancy added: “So I had to go back and educate myself. When you sit down and read the script of the Downton Abbey sequel without having a built-in knowledge of who the characters are, I can tell you it's a completely baffling experience!”

Sophie McShera stars as Daisy and Lesley Nicol stars as Mrs. Patmore in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release.

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

The new Downton Abbey movie might cross over with The Gilded Age

Debuting in January, Fellowes has enjoyed a second period-drama smash with The Gilded Age, set in New York’s boom years at the end of the 19th century.

That’s a little earlier than the new Downton Abbey movie timeline (which takes place in the 1930s), but in a recent interview with Deadline, the screenwriter said we shouldn’t rule out a spot of upper-crust world-building. “I’ve learned this much,” Fellowes said with a smile. “Never say never.”

Elizabeth McGovern stars as Cora Grantham and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Hexham in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

The Downton Abbey 2 release date delays drove Hugh Bonneville mad

If you think you’ve been let down by the endless delays to Downton Abbey: A New Era, spare a thought for the 7th Earl Of Grantham.

Having worked at his local vaccination centre, Hugh Bonneville couldn’t hide his frustration during a radio interview with DJ Zoe Ball last year.

“Here’s the deal,” said the actor. “If everybody who is offered a vaccine takes a vaccine, we can make a movie and we will make a movie.”

Official poster for DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release.

© 2021 Focus Features, LLC.

The new Downton Abbey movie is here to cheer us up

The Downton Abbey 2 release date is April 29th, and it can’t come soon enough. Right now, we can all agree that the nation needs something to smile about – and in an interview with the Love Your Weekend show, Julian Fellowes said he hopes his Downton Abbey sequel will bring the sunshine.

“I'm pleased with it actually,” considered the show creator. “I think it works pretty well. It's a feel-good movie, and I don't know about you, but I could use a bit of feel-good right now…”

 


 

Downton Abbey: A New Era release date – April 29th

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