Four years ago, the final chapter in the worldwide phenomenon that gripped audiences ended. Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey spanned 12 years and depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post Edwardian era. Through love, heartbreak, tragedy, and hope, the series touched audiences with its humor, passion, and gripping storylines. With the film now in theaters, we sat down with Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, and Hughe Bonneville to talk about the latest cinematic chapter in the Downton Abbey series.
Downton Abbey debuted in the US in 2011, taking place in an Edwardian English country house where the Crawley family and their servants resided. The series won 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, and received 69 Emmy nominations, making it the most nominated non-US TV show in the history of the Emmys. It also earned a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show.
Consideration provided by Focus Features.
This Fall, Downtown Abbey culminates in a cinematic finale. The British historical period drama continues the storyline from the original TV series and is set in 1927. The Crawleys and their staff are preparing for the most important moment of their lives…a royal visit from the King and Queen of England. With an assassin plotting to kill the monarch, the family and servants are pitted against the royals, including the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting, who has had a falling out with the Crawleys over an inheritance issue. Need a recap before you see the film? Focus Feature catches you up!
Interview With Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, and Hugh Bonneville
Last week, we sat down with Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, and Hugh Bonneville to talk about revisiting their characters, reuniting with the cast on-set, creating a period piece, and whether or not Downton Abbey fans will see these characters again.
Nearly four years after the series ended, McGovern and Leech talk about what it was like to revisit their respective characters. For Leech, “it didn’t take a huge amount to get back to being Tom Branson. I think when we read the script, we all had a certain level of trepidation going in. Can you go back and revisit it be as precise as you were originally?” Once the cast began reading the script and getting into costume, they realized that “it was almost muscle memory, sitting below the surface, because [they played] these characters for so long (Leech).” And when the cast was not playing their characters, they were liking talking about them. For McGovern, it was a luxury, because it is not often that you get a chance to revisit a character that “has just settled in your bones for years without you even thinking about it. You can just play it…you can just be it.”
For audiences like myself, one of the draws of the series was the fact that it covered a period of time that I really love. McGovern “is really drawn to great stories and great characters” and her hope is that the film and the characters “spring out to a modern audience, as if they are not in that period.” But what is remarkable to her “is that people in that period are just like we are today; things really don’t change all that much.” When you do something that is set in a period, “people talk about the way you move and the way you speak and the way you hold yourself…but nobody really knows. We have an agreed understanding of what we accept as the way people moved or spoke or sat or ate. And we want the audiences to believe that they’re in that period (McGovern).” On set, they did have a historical advisor “who was the sort of continuum of that or made sure that these standards were maintained (Bonneville).”
Whether you are a staunch Downton Abbey fan, or you have yet to experience the phenomenon, the cast hopes that audiences will be entertained, reassured, and happy as the final chapter closes on these characters. And while many fans are hoping for more chapters in the Downton Abbey series, “realistically, it is certainly the end for us in terms of the TV show (Bonneville).” With the house still standing, the potential for spinoffs is always there given the fact that the house is the central character of the series.
See Downton Abbey in theaters today!