Downton Abbey: Show creator, Julian Fellowes, discusses the rumour that Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) is leaving and admits “There’s nothing I can do!”

by Anna Howell

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, 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:


  1. Leigh on December 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I want him to die. His character has grown dull, his heart is not in the acting process and it shows, and he’s acted like a classless ingrate in public. PLus Poor Sybil and Edith have been punished so badly this season. It’s Mary’s turn to suffer. I think Michelle would rock it and be way more fun to watch without Milquetoast Matthew. He’s such a doormat.

  2. Cherry on December 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I want him to stay and finish the job.
    His “disappearance” however its organised will leave a hole! The romance and fun is what has made this series so successful among the depressing aggressiveness of other programs Please change your mind Dan and let us have a great feel good program for another series then you can “let us down easy “

  3. Clara on December 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I have a funny feeling that if Stevens does not return to Downton Abbey, he will star in the American series, the Gilded Age, an 1880’s American version of Downton Abbey, that Julian Fellowes is signing on to write for a major American TV network. Stevens has already mastered his American accent for the Heiress on Broadway, and would love to remain on this side of the pond. American women LOVE him, and I am certain, with his charm and Fellowes’ juicy scripts, it would be a smash hit.

  4. Sholeh on December 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I hope Dan does not leave Downton Abbey and remains loyal to the show that has brought him to the international recognition. His hard work as well as other’s have made the show successful and the show has brought all of them to this recognition. If he leaves Downton prematurely, he will tarnish the moral and the character he has built in the eyes of his viewers and fans.I hope he doesn’t listen to the ego boosting advertisements he receives here in the US as they can be temporary and fading, especially if he does not further solidify his current popularity by staying in Downton Abbey. Now the Downton Abbey related poularity is fresh and alive in the air so he does not feel the lack of it. If he leaves Downton before the show ends itself, he has established a dark spot(unfinished job, halfway done)in his career for greed immaturely, leaving his fans disappointed and makes room to doubt his character and will loose his current status of popularity. While if he stays in the show his popularity will be boosted even further than what is it now and he has proved his loyalty, moral and maturity with a flawless history that will bring more fortune for him in longterm. I hope he reads my comment.

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