Downton Abbey, a Victorian dollhouse where no member of the family is safe, has lost another cast member who won't be returning for the show's upcoming fourth season. This time it's O'Brien, Lady Grantham's evil maid and one of the best love-to-hate characters on all of TV. With all of the deaths from last season, does anyone even live in this house anymore?
Siobhan Finneran, who plays the scheming character, announced, "I’m not doing any more. O’Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being - that was great to play." ITV, which airs the show in the UK, confirmed that she would not be back for Season 4, which started filming this week (but PBS has not set a date for its return State-side). Finneran did not give a reason for wanting to leave the show, but it probably wasn't money, especially considering reports that some stars were offered double their salary for this upcoming season of the English-speaking world's most popular telenovela. It's not like Finneran is going to be out of work. She also stars on the ITV sitcom Benidorm and will co-star on the next season of the BBC hit The Syndicate. This lady is certainly not going to retire on just a maid's salary.
RELATE: 'Downton Abbey' Will Get It's First Black Cast Member and a Party Boy in Season 4
The good news for O'Brien is that the character won't be killed off, so she's welcome back to the fading manor house in the future — unlike Lady Sybil and Future Lord Matthew, both of whom were surprisingly killed off during Season 3 because the actors, Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Matthews, wanted off the show. Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning writer and creator of the show, said he had no choice but to kill off the members of the family when the actors wanted out. "“If he [Stevens] had been prepared to come back for maybe two or three episodes in a series, that would be different. Then we could have had a foreign posting or invented a career that would have made it possible for him to be away," Fellowes told the Telegraph. “Otherwise we would have had to make this tremendously successful love affair between Mary and Matthew unhappy, which I didn’t feel would be believable. For them to then separate and Matthew never set eyes on his son again would not be believable either. So we didn’t really have any option.”
At least O'Brien lives to snark another day, but who are we ever going to get to give a side-eye as icily perfect as hers?
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: PBS]
From Our Partners:Justin Bieber Celebrates 19th Birthday, Loses His Pants (Vh1)60 Celebrity Bikini Bodies: Guess Who! (Celebuzz)
If there's a cinematic alchemy award to be given this year director Bill Condon deserves to take it home after magically turning the tedious Twilight franchise into entertainment gold. 2011's Part 1 was a horror camp romp that turned the supernatural love triangle — the naval gazing trio of Bella Edward and Jacob — on its head. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 continues the madcap exploration of a world populated by vampires and werewolves mining even more comedy thrills and genuine character moments out of conceit than ever before. The film occasionally sidesteps back into Edward and Bella's meandering romance (an evident hurdle of author Stephenie Meyer's source material) but the duller moments are overshadowed by the movie's nimble pace and playful attitude. Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will elicit laughs aplenty — but thankfully they're all on purpose.
Part 2 picks up immediately following the events of the first film Bella (Kristen Stewart) having been turned into a vampire by Edward (Robert Pattinson) to save her life after the torturous delivery of her half-human half-vampire child Renesmee. She awakes to discover super senses heightened agility increased strength… and a thirst for blood. One dead cougar later Bella and the gang are able to focus on the real troubles ahead: Renesmee is rapidly growing (think Jack) and vampiric overlords The Volturi perceive her a threat to vampiric secrecy. Knowing the Volturi will travel to Forks WA to kill the young girl (a 10-year-old just a month after being born) The Cullens amass an army of bloodsucking friends to end the oppression once and for all.
Packed with an absurd amount of backstory and mythology-twisting plot points (some vampires can shoot lightning now?) Condon and series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg mine revel in the beefed up ensemble of Breaking Dawn - Part 2 and thanks to a wildly funny cast it never feels like pointless deviation. Along with the usual suspects Lee Pace adds swagger to the series as a grungy alt-rock vampire Noel Fisher appears as a hilarious over-the-top battle-ready Russian coven member and Michael Sheen returns has Volturi head honcho Aro and steels the show. Flamboyant diabolical and a steady stream of maniacal laughter Sheen owns Condon's high camp vision for Twilight and he lights up the screen. There are a few throw away nations of vampires — the oddly stereotypical Egyptian and Amazonians sects are there mostly there to off-set the extreme whiteness — but the actors involved bring liveliness to a franchise known for being soulless. Even Stewart Pattinson and Taylor Lautner give personal bests in this installment — a scene between Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke) is genuinely heartfelt while Jacob's overprotective hero schtick finally lands.
Whereas Breaking Dawn - Part 1 stuck mostly to the personal story relying on the intimate moments as Bella and Edward took the big plunge into marriage and sex Part 2 paints with broader strokes and Condon has a ball. Delving into the history of the vampires and the vampire world outside Forks is Pandora's Box for the director. One scene where we learn why kids scare the heck of the Volturi captures a scope of medieval epics — along with the bloodshed. Twilight might be known for its sexual moments but Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will go down for its abundance of decapitations. The big set piece in the finale is something to behold both in the craftsmanship of the spectacle and in its bizarre nature.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 had the audience hooting hollering and even gasping as it twisted and turned to the final moments. There's little doubt that even the biggest naysayer of the franchise would do the same. No irony here: the conclusion of Twilight is a blast.
Shrek stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy have agreed to voice the sequel to last year's animation mega-blockbuster, according to Reuters. And while we'll most likely have to wait until 2004 to see the ogre, Princess Fiona and Donkey in Shrek 2, we've learned one thing from its $900 million predecessor: green ogres rake in the green stuff.
Walt Disney Pictures announced Thursday that its major holiday animation film Treasure Planet will be released simultaneously in 35mm and IMAX Theaters on Nov. 27. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, this futuristic space adventure follows a boy pirate in search of the "loot of a thousand worlds." Emma Thompson, David Hyde Pierce and Martin Short will voice the characters.
Robert Redford's not the "Sundance Kid" for nothing. According to the Associated Press, Academy President Frank Pierson announced Friday that Redford, the actor/director/producer/creator of Sundance, will receive an honorary Oscar in March for having an "enormously positive impact on the motion picture industry" through his "dedication to independent filmmaking."
Speaking of "indie flicks," William Shatner and Harry Hamlin were in the Twin Cities Friday promoting their new low-budget flick, "Shoot or Be Shot," AP reports. Although this one probably won't get wide distribution, Hamlin said they took on the project because "we love the story, and we love the characters." (At least he's busy again; Hamlin's last notable role was on TV drama L.A. Law which ended in 1994).
Marisa Tomei and Ted Danson will announce the nominees for the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Tuesday, according to Ananova.com. The awards are given to both film and TV actors, and the winners will be announced March 10.
Mariah Carey may be back in the recording studio sooner than later. After a disappointing broken contract with EMI, the singer is rumored to be in negotiations with hip-hop label Def Jam, according to Sky News. Nothing has been finalized to date.
Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are all set take part in Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee, a live concert honoring the queen's 50-year U.K. reign, Reuters reports. The BBC is scheduled to air the concert live June 3.
The Michael Jackson Internet Fan Club will be closing its doors Thursday, according to a message the MJIFC Team left on its site that read, "We are now ready to move on to other tasks in our lives." ABC News.com reports the site had been online for seven years.
PBS is celebrating 40 years of R&B classics in "Rhythm and Blues 40: A Soul Spectacular,'' Reuters reports. While no date is set, the artists highlighted will include the Isley Brothers, Percy Sledge, Eddie Holman, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and others. Dionne Warwick will co-host the program with Jerry Butler and Sam Moore.
What's your favorite flavor? The Dave Matthews Band has a new one. It's called One Sweet Whirled, and it's named after their song "One Sweet World," according to MTV. Here's the scoop: it's one of several new Ben & Jerry's ice creams, combing coffee ice cream with caramel and marshmallow swirls.
Now for an '80s flashback. Pop band Bananarama will reunite at London's Astoria for a special 20th anniversary concert next month, Ananova.com reports. All three of the band's original members--Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahey--will perform.
Playboy magazine is giving reality TV a shot, according to Sky News. Twelve contestants, who will be featured in the June issue of Playboy, will live with one another for two weeks while competing to become the July Playmate. Hugh Hefner will pick the winner for the show that's expected to be titled Who Wants To Be a Playboy Playmate?