‘Downton’ and out
Michelle Dockery takes on a darker character in new role
For “Downton Abbey” fans, it might be disconcerting to see Lady Mary cleaning toilets in a dingy roadside café.
For six seasons, Michelle Dockery was known to TV audiences as the elegant but icy eldest daughter of the Crawley family, owners of a vast country estate during the early part of the 20th century on the hit PBS soap.
On TNT’s “Good Behavior,” the British actress moves into the modern South to play Letty Dobesh, an ex-junkie and thief just out of prison. She lives in low-rent conditions, reporting to a parole officer and working as a waitress.
Part of her wants to go straight. She is always listening to self-help lectures, but she’s still tempted by drugs and steals to feed her habit.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play two very strong female characters, and there are some parallels with them,” says Dockery, whose real-life middle-class accent isn’t as posh as Lady Mary’s.
“It’s just very different periods, you know. One happens to be in ‘20s and one in modern day. But Letty’s an extraordinary character, so colorful and raw, and she’s fascinating to play, and I’m loving every minute.”
Based on a collection of novellas by author Blake Crouch (“Wayward Pines,” “Dark Matter”), the series gives the actress a chance to slip into a number of different characters, have a lot of costume changes and be rough and rowdy in ways Lady Mary wouldn’t dream of.
Letty isn’t just a common thief, but uses her good looks and intelligence to con her way into upscale hotels to rob rooms. In one episode Dockery, a vocalist who has performed at jazz festivals, even gets a chance to sing karaoke.
“It’s character within character,” says Dockery. “I have four different wigs. They all have different names.”
As the series unfolds, we find out more about the character’s dark past. Her mother, Estelle (Lusia Strus), who had Letty as a teen, left her to run wild growing up, Now, she is trying to make amends by raising her daughter’s son but won’t let Letty anywhere near him, though.
After being fired from the diner and denied a chance to see her child, Letty falls back into her old ways and embarks on a crime spree.
Just as she thinks she is getting away with her robberies, Letty overhears a murder plot being hatched by Javier (Juan Diego Botto), an Argentine assassin, and man who wants to kill his wife. Deciding murder is beyond her moral boundaries, Letty tries to stop the murder, but also steal the money the hitman is being paid.
Things go awry, and suddenly Letty finds herself in a devil’s bargain with Javier, who has other people to kill. Why he spares her is the question. Javier tells her