Many Abbey returns for Downton’s Dowager
MAGGIE SMITH will ll return to Downton n Abbey for the Dowager’ s last hurrah, in a film sequel that’s set to shoot in the spring.
The Downton movie, released last st September, included a moving scene e where Violet Crawley, the Dowager er Countess of Grantham, confided to o her granddaughter Lady Mary y (Michelle Dockery) that she was sick k and ‘may not have long to live’.
Fans of the picture, based on the e blockbuster television drama, , assumed they would never see Violet t again, and that any follow-up film m would not feature the deliciously y sharp-tongued matriarch.
However, the great dame has agreed to put on Violet’s posh frocks once again for a final outing.
She’ll be joined by her screen family, including Hugh Bonneville’s Lord Grantham and Elizabeth McGovern, as his wife Cora. Lady Mary will r eturn ( along with Matthew Goode as her husband Henry), as will her sister Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael).
Penelope Wilton’s cousin Isobel and Allen Leech’s Branson will also be back; along with trusted retainers Jim Carter (Mr Carson), Phyllis Logan (Mrs Carson, nee Hughes), Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his wife Anna (Joanne Froggatt).
In the meantime, despite her very British stiff upper lip as Lady Mary, Michelle Dockery has been spreading her wings across the Atlantic to play the American mother of a boy accused of murder, alongside Chris Evans ( Marvel’s Captain America), in the Apple TV+ miniseries Defending Jacob.
Downton will shoot from March until May next year under strict
Covid- secure safety protocols. Maggie — who will be 86 by the time filming starts — will have a bubble of her own, to keep her extra safe.
Creator Julian Fellowes told me just before the quarantine that he had written a draft script. And during the summer, Carmichael teased that he had been ‘ polishing’ the screenplay during the lockdown.
Scripts were sent out to cast members last month; and casting has begun for the film’s guest stars.
Imelda Staunton and Tuppence Middleton were introduced in key roles in last year’s picture, and they’ll be back, too.
Producers at Carnival Film and Television and Universal’s Focus Fe a t u r e s wa n t to film in s pring because i t’ s t he best ‘availability window’ for the cast and creative team.
Family gathering: Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery in Downton