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.
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?
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[Photo Credit: PBS]