Irish actor Allen Leech became a worldwide favorite of public television viewers thanks to his turn as rebellious and romantic chauffeur Tom Branson on the hit series "Downton Abbey" (ITV/PBS, 2010- )...
Our favorite upstairs-downstairs drama is back! Well, almost.
On Tuesday, several Downton Abbey castmembers and executive producers took the stage at the TCA press tour to talk about the emotional whirlwind that was the third season and to give a few hints of what's to come in the new episodes. Here are some small spoilers:
Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson's relationship will remain strictly professional.
When asked about a potential romance between the two Downton staff members, actress Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs. Hughes, was quick to put an end to those rumors. "No. No. We still have a very nice working relationship. We still have occasional spats here and there. We still have a lot of respect for one another. We occasionally get to drink a glass of sherry together…not as often as I would like.”
Lady Mary won't be in mourning the whole time.
Mary actress Michelle Dockery noted that the widow will have "more than one" love interest in the new season, including Lord Gillingham, a new character played by Irish actor Tom Cullen. “He is an old family friend who she’s known since the girls were children, and they haven’t seen him since she was tiny," she explained. "She’s kind of slowly throughout the series coming back to real life and of course it’s important for her to eventually move on, so he is a potential love interest.”
Edith's bad luck may take a turn for the better.
Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, said that “[Creator] Julian [Fellowes] has this take that some people in life are lucky. And some people aren’t. And Edith is definitely one of those unlucky people. I love the Gregson and Edith relationship because he’s so different from any of the other men in Downton. He’s kind of a working, modern man. A self-made man. And exists in a different universe in London. Their relationship is interesting and I think different.” Producer Gareth Neame added: “I think what we can say is it is a very different season for Edith this year. Really different stories. Very exciting.”
But, Edith's career and relationship with her editor will become more "complicated."
In response to questions about Edith's future, Carmichael remarked, “She is still involved with her editor and it is a lot more complicated than that, which I’ll just have to let you see without giving too much away." She also added, "She’s still sort of turning in some articles and we know that she’s been writing about the cause of the soldier, but it’s the kind of modern woman thing. I like to think of her as the Carrie Bradshaw of the 20s.”
There will be a 5th season, hopefully without any more major cast departures.
“What’s wonderful about the show is that it’s opened doors for all of us,” said Dockery. “As far as we know we’re all doing series five next year, and beyond that we really don’t know. That’s in the hands of Julian and our producers so we’ll see. So long as the core cast remain…I think if other actors start leaving that would be a worry.”
The departure of Dan Stevens will open up a lot of new material.
Michelle Dockery talked about her thoughts on the loss of Matthew Crawley. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, crap. What is going to happen?’ Because I thought, ‘Where can this story go now?’ We spent all this time on this will-they-or-won’t they relationships and then suddenly it was coming to an end. So initially I was concerned.” She quickly added, "But as much as it was sad to see Dan go, same as it was sad to see Jessica go, it opens it up for Julian to write a new chapter.”
Widowed Mary won't be hooking up with her widowed brother-in-law.
“They are very much friends. And he is her brother-in-law still. I think they become close because of what they’ve both been through, having lost a partner. And also Mary becomes far more involved in the running of the estate with Tom, so we do have a lot of scenes together,” said Dockery. “But romantically, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I hope not.”
Daisy has grown up, but only a bit.
When asked about Daisy's evolution, actress Sophie McShera responded, “Someone asked me how old she was when we began and how old she is now. And that couldn’t work out…she must have been about 10 when we started.” McShera added, “She’s had such a journey and even during her terrible teens, you know that bratty teenage stage which she’s still in a bit. She’s being a bit of a jealous girl with Ivy and everything. She’s had an amazing journey. I’ve really loved it. I like that we get such a long time because you can grow up on screen, which is always exciting.”
Thomas is due for some drama.
Actor Rob James-Collier wasn’t present to talk about Thomas Barrow, but Neame gave us a few hints about the insensitive valet's future. “He is a complete outsider. Of course it’s going to be a complex world for him going forward. I’ve heard rumors that O’Brien may be heading for the hills. There’s going to be a bit of a shakeup to what happens to his story.” He added: “He’s always going to have that core thing of wanting to be in control, wanting to find out what’s going on, wanting to make sure he can dictate things, that rivalry with Carson. He remains a very compelling character."
Downton won't go to World War II.
We've watched Downton span a decade, but how far will it progress through modern history? This season picks up in 1922, a full ten years after it started, in the wake of the Titanic disaster, but Gareth Neame doesn't anticipate the show moving into any additional major historical events. "I don't think we'll go on to the Second World War," he said.
Downton Abbey Season 4 is set to premiere on January 5 in the U.S. (but we know that all of you true fans will be illegally streaming it come fall when it airs in the U.K.). Until then, we'll be counting down the days until we can hear Laura Linney tell us "this is Masterpiece Classic."
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The last season of Downton Abbey, an early 20th century version of The Sims, ended not with a whimper but the bang of Matthew Crawley's car flying off the side of the road and Dan Stevens careening toward a movie career that may or may not happen. But what will happen to Lady Mary and her now-fatherless child? And what gentlemen are they going to get up in the manner house that aren't wearing tuxedos and spilling fish sauce on the Dowager Countess?
Well, we finally got at least one answer — the role of Lady Mary's hotly anticipated love slave Lord Gillingham has gone to Tom Cullen, who announced the news on Twitter, this weekend. "I can announce that I'm in the new season four of Downton Abbey. So excited. My heart is beating a little too fast...," he Twittered to his twits. His isn't the only heart that will be beating fast. I am happy to report that, as you can see from the above photo, Mr. Cullen is going to give Allen Leech's Branson a run for his money in the "best looking in a morning coat" department.
RELATED: 'Downton Abbey' Scoop: Who Could Play Mary's Suitor in Season 4?
Cullen, 27, has been starring in the British series Black Mirror, but American fans might know him better from the indie film Weekend, where he plays a gay man who falls in love over the course of (duh) a weekend. Those who haven't seen the film but want to know what Cullen will look like out of his costume on this costume drama should get themselves to Netflix right now because, well, all will be revealed. Between the new characters, O'Brien leaving, and now the dreamy Mr. Cullen joining the cast, Season 4 (which is currently filming in Merry Old England) is officially getting spicy.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: David Fisher/Rex/Rex USA]
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"I found her stories about hanging out with the Rat Pack in New York and Los Angeles fascinating. She'd talk about Meryl Streep and Billy Wilder, it was amazing stuff from the romantic era of movies." Irish actor Allen Leech was enthralled by tales from Shirley Maclaine as she filmed scenes for hit U.K. show Downton Abbey.
Irish actor Allen Leech became a worldwide favorite of public television viewers thanks to his turn as rebellious and romantic chauffeur Tom Branson on the hit series "Downton Abbey" (ITV/PBS, 2010- ). Leech began on the Irish stage before making his feature debut with the independent dramas "Cowboys & Aliens" (2003) and "Man About Dog" (2004), both of which minted him as a star on the rise. A pair of nominations for Best Supporting Actor by the Irish Film and Television Awards boosted his profile, which in turn brought him to the attention of Julian Fellowes, who cast him as Branson on "Abbey." The show's devoted following, as well as its history-making slew of award nominations, helped elevate Leech to international fame, which he parlayed into major roles in several British features while also continuing to set hearts aflutter on "Abbey." The popularity of the series, as well as his own rapidly rising profile, virtually guaranteed Allen Leech as an actor on the brink of stardom on both sides of the pond.<p>Born May 18, 1981 in the season resort town of Killiney, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, Allen Leech was the third of four children by computer systems company CEO David Leech and his wife, Kay. As a child, Leech was bullied for being overweight, which left him withdrawn and fearful until his teenaged years. However, he found an outlet in acting, which he began at the age of 11 in school productions at St. Michael's College. Though his parents hoped that Leech would become an architect, they supported his decision to become a professional actor, which began in earnest with a small role in a 1998 stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Frances McDormand. While studying drama and theater studies at Trinity College in Dublin, Leech appeared in a production of "This Lime Tree Bower," which helped him to land his first agent. More stage roles followed, as well as minor roles on Irish television, before Leech earned his breakout role in "Cowboys & Angels" (2003), an Irish drama feature about a gay fashion student who convinced his straight-laced, civil servant roommate to become a runway model.<p>He gained further notice as a West Belfast youth caught in underhanded dealings in the dog racing world in Paddy Breathnach's "Man About Dog" (2004) and on the television drama series "Love is the Drug" (RTE Two, 2004-05), which concerned the lives of a large Irish family. Leech received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor from the Irish Film and Television Awards, as well as the title of Sexiest Irish Male in 2005 from <i>U</i> magazine. He also earned a second Best Supporting Actor nod from the Irish Film and Television Awards for "Legend" (RTE, 2006), a drama about a middle-class family who have fallen upon hard times following the death of their mother. Stateside audiences then caught what was likely their first glimpse of Leech in the HBO/BBC/RAI series "Rome" (2005-07), which cast him as Marcus Agrippa, close friend to ascendant emperor Octavian/Augustus Caesar. In 2009, Leech appeared in the supernatural drama "From Time to Time," which marked his first collaboration with "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellows, as well as many of its stars, including Dame Maggie Smith and actor Hugh Bonneville. The following year, he played an old boyfriend who brought turmoil to the newly calm life of a recovering addict (Amy Huberman) in "Rewind" (2010), but the picture, along with Leech's two-episode turn as Francis Derenham, whose relationship with Catherine Howard sealed both of their fates on "The Tudors" (BBC Two/CBC/Showtime/TV3, 2007-2010), was largely overshadowed by his role as chauffeur Tom Branson on "Downton Abbey."<p>On the wildly popular British series, his fierce devotion to the Irish nationalist cause put him at odds with the show's central family, the Crawleys, a status that only increased in vehemence after his clandestine romance with and marriage to their third daughter, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), who became aware of the class struggles in England through Branson. The Crawleys later took up his case after his involvement in Irish Republican-caused violence, but the subsequent truce between Branson and the Crawleys was overshadowed by the death of Lady Sybil during childbirth. The star-crossed romance between Branson and Lady Sybil helped to make Leech something of a heartthrob for "Downton" fans. He would subsequently parlay his newfound fame into feature roles in "The Sweeney" (2012), the film version of the long-running British police drama of the same name (ITV, 1975-78).<p><i>By Paul Gaita</i>