Ever since the end of the third series of Downton Abbey a few months ago, rumours have been circulating furiously about one of the shows main stars, Dan Stevens, reporting that he would not be signing for a fourth series due to plans to conquer America.
Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley in the hit ITV period drama, let it slip earlier this year about his US plans, telling the Mail Online at the time: “New York for me is going to be one big adventure. I will be taking the whole family out and we will be there for six months. I don’t know if I will be returning to Downton.”
This sent fans of the hugely popular show into despair, knowing that the only logical way for his character to be written out without his wife, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), would have to be for him to be killed off and join Lady Sybil in the Grantham crypt!
The show itself was left in serious question throughout this time also, with ITV dragging their heels to even commission a fourth series, but now that they have, show creator, Julian Fellowes, has finally come forward to address the rumours.
According to EW.com, Julian is reported to have admitted that there is “nothing” he can do if Stevens does decide to leave, commenting:
“Sometimes actors feel they want to move on. Initially, for the first two or three [seasons] you can contract them, but after that, every season, you have to re-contract them. If they don’t want to come back, there’s nothing we can do.”
He went on to rule out re-casting Steven’s character, adding more fuel to the rumour that Matthew will indeed be killed off, explaining:
“I can’t see us doing that. I think we’ll go on jogging quite happily through the 20s. You know there’s always a little time jump. We did two years between [seasons] one and two because we only wanted to spend two years in the war so we had to start halfway through the war.
“Now we don’t have those imperatives. Sometimes you just have a few months so that there can be a few things that have happened in between that you can refer to, and have a slightly back-story for one or another character, but we don’t have the same imperative to leap forward.”
How do you think Matthew’s departure will affect the show? Leave your thoughts and comments below:
In the meantime, Downton Abbey is returning to our ITV screens this Christmas day at 8.45pm, watch an interview with Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora, discussing what to expect in the clip below: