For six seasons between 2010 and 2015, viewers were entranced by the happenings of the early 20th century period drama Downton Abbey. Following the lives of the upstairs and downstairs individuals who resided in the prestigious estate of Downton Abbey, the series was critically acclaimed, passionately beloved by fans, and received many awards and nominations as well. The primary focus of the series was the Crawley family, led by the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley; the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley; and the Countess of Grantham, Cora Crawley.
The series also followed the lives of the three Crawley daughters - eldest Mary, middle child Edith, and youngest Sybil. Through these three characters, countless romances were told, and various relationships with downstairs staff were developed and strengthened. And for those for whom the upstairs world was too much to handle, the downstairs world was populated with countless vibrant and lovable characters, including Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Bates, and Anna Bates.
After four long years without Downton Abbey, the beloved characters will be returning with yet another adventure this September - but now, on the big screen. Here's what we know so far about the highly anticipated film.
It didn't take very long after Downton Abbey officially went off the air in December 2015 for discussions of a return to the franchise to start up. As early as April 2016, Julian Fellowes, the creator and lead writer of the esteemed series, revealed that he was working on a script for a follow up film, though no details about the plot were made available at that time.
It's taken a while for the film to get from that early script development stage to the real thing, but as we all know, the story was written, and the film is now on its way. Considering Julian Fellowes was responsible for the creation of this game changing television experience, it makes sense that he wouldn't be willing to hand over the reins to anyone else when the franchise makes the leap from the small screen to the silver screen. And why should he, really, when his storytelling has always been so damn good?
It's a struggle that's familiar for all stateside fans of British dramas, at one point or another: the dreaded wait for new seasons of a hit series to make their way over to the US. United States viewers almost always had to wait longer than the United Kingdom viewers did in order to see new episodes of Downton Abbey, so it's not really much of a surprise that the same will hold true for the beloved franchise's feature film.
With that being said, while seasons could be held back a few months after the initial release in the United Kingdom, the film will be held back for United States based viewers for a much shorter period of time. The Downton Abbey film releases in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2019, before debuting stateside only a week later on September 19, 2019.
Lily James's Lady Rose MacClare was one of the latest additions to the series' primary cast - and by far, one of the most controversial. Representing a newly liberated generation, one that was far more independent than even the young women in the world of Edith and Mary, Rose often brought trouble to the Crawley family, and often through her romantic relationships. Rose's primary plots consisted of an interracial romance with a black musician, as well as her eventual marriage to an aristocratic Russian Jew.
While Rose's character allowed the series to tackle some important social issues, especially considering the relative lily white nature of the rest of the cast, it's sadly been confirmed that Rose will not be appearing in the film at all. It makes sense, given the fact that Lily James' star is on the rise, with her appearances in works such as Cinderella, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, War and Peace, and many more. But according to James, it wasn't a matter of scheduling, but rather of narrative space constraints.
Another character introduced midway through the series was Ed Speleers' James "Jimmy" Kent. A new addition to the downstairs staff, James soon finds himself the object of affection of Thomas Barrow, one of the most troublemaking characters in the entire series. But, as it turns out, James winds up to be the cause of quite a lot of trouble himself.
He rebuffs Thomas's advances, winds up getting the both of them brutally beaten, chases after a girl he has no interest in just to hurt someone else's feelings, and has his reputation ruined and job taken away after he's caught in a compromising position with a Lady. James brought more trouble to the series than he was ever worth - and it's for that reason, we're not to disappointed to learn that Speleers won't be making a return to the franchise. The Crawley family has enough to deal with as it is.
In the first three seasons of Downton Abbey, much of the drama of the series revolved around the revelation that Matthew Crawley, one of the members of the lower class of the Crawley family, was to be the next in line to the Grantham family estate. The clash of worlds between Matthew's world view, his mother Isobel's world view, and the wealthy, elitist world of the Downton Crawleys made for excellent drama and comedy both, and his romance with the stuffy Lady Mary Crawley was one of the high points of the series.
Tragically, Matthew's life was cut short in a motor vehicle accident immediately following the birth of his and Mary's son, George, as actor Dan Stevens was ready to leave the series after three years. And we're sorry to anyone who was still holding out hope for the return of Matthew Crawley in any form, whether an unexpected resurrection, or a flashback to happier days at the Abbey: Dan Stevens has officially confirmed that he will not be returning to the franchise that got his career started when Downton makes the leap to the big screen this September.
Downton Abbey is known for its iconic characters, many of whom are larger than life and worth quoting and memeing on any occasion - especially the beloved Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley. But just as the characters are absolutely essential to everything that made the show work, the very building of Downton Abbey itself played an instrumental role in making the series and its environment so instantly iconic.
Highclere Castle, located in Hampshire, England, served as the primary location for filming during the series' original run. And thankfully, filming once again took place at that same esteemed location, ensuring that there will be no discrepancies or differences in the clearly iconic exterior of the Crawley family estate.
Arguably one of the highlights of Downton Abbey's sixth season was the sudden introduction of Matthew Goode's charismatic Henry Talbot, a professional race driver who swept the widowed Lady Mary off her feet in a way that no one had truly been able to do, following her first husband, Matthew's, tragic passing. Henry and Mary had the necessary spark and chemistry to make their relationship worth rooting for, as they took each other out of their respective comfort zones.
It's a shame, then, to learn the following: Matthew Goode was apparently busy with other projects during the time that the Downton Abbey movie was being filmed, and, as a result, Henry's role in the film is apparently going to be relatively limited. It would be a shame to think that there may be trouble in the cards for these two, considering how the series left them off married and with a baby on the way. So we can only hope that Henry's relative absence isn't too glaring.
From the very beginning of the series, the butler Mr. Carson was immediately one of Downton Abbey's most beloved characters. Fiercely loyal and protective of all members of the Crawley family, Carson goes above and beyond to get the job done, even often at the expense of his own happiness. Thankfully, by the end of the series, Carson finally settles down with fellow veteran house staff, Elsie Hughes, allowing the both of them the true love and happiness they've always deserved.
And now, with the Downton Abbey movie's release, the franchise is introducing another significant woman from the real life Carson's wife. Jim Carter's wife, the legendary British actress Imelda Staunton who is perhaps best known for her work as Harry Potter's odious Dolores Umbridge, will be joining the Downton family as a character called Lady Bagshaw.
The Downton Abbey movie has padded its cast with plenty of newcomers, in addition to the legion of returning favorites from both upstairs and downstairs. But perhaps the most significant casting choice that has been publicly revealed so far is that of actress Geraldine James. James may be best known to audiences at the moment for her turn Marilla Cuthbert in Anne with an E, the Netflix distributed Canadian adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.
When it comes to her work in the Downton Abbey film, however, James is reportedly going to be taking on an incredibly prestigious role: Queen Mary. As early as September 2018, filming reports and photos shared by The Telegraph have led fans the world over to believe that James will be appearing as the monarch herself.
We don't know very much about the story of the Downton Abbey movie. Even the film's first teaser trailer consisted primarily of nostalgia infused images of familiar settings and scenery. But according to early coverage of the film from the 2019 Cinema Con, Downton Abbey may be venturing into uncharted, and truly exciting, territory with its cinematic debut: the Crawley family will, reportedly, be facing a royal visit from Queen Mary, King George V, and Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood.
The first trailer, shown exclusively to attendees of Cinema Con, reveals that the Royal Family are on their way - and, as is to be expected, the Crawley family and their staff are in total disarray ensuring that the Abbey will be up to snuff. There were witticisms exchanged between the Dowager Countess and Isobel, glimpses of the Crawley daughters, and much more. For now, we'll just have to take the attendees' words for it, until we get to see some real footage ourselves - and hopefully soon.