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10 Morsels to Savor from 'Downton Abbey' Cast Visit to New York
December 8, 2015  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment

With the final season of Downton Abbey less than a month away, a good chunk of the cast reunited this week in New York for what Hugh Bonneville observed might be the last time.
Bonneville (top, Lord Grantham), Elizabeth McGovern (below, Lady Grantham), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Kevin Doyle (Mr. Molesley) and executive producer Gareth Neame continued the annual PBS tradition of previewing the final season for the press, supporters and a select group of fans.
It’s a lovefest tempered this year by the wistful truth that Season 6, which begins Jan. 3 in the States, will mark the end of the show.
Or, to many of the hard-core fans who gathered at New York’s Hudson Theater Monday night, the end of television drama life as we know it.
During a panel discussion, Carter noted that much as he will miss working with his Downton peers, this is just show biz.  
“You do a project,” he said, “and you move on. That’s what we all signed up for.”
Everyone did stress that they enjoyed their time on the show, which was hardly surprising. What’s not to like about being part of a worldwide phenomenon?
There has been some speculation, heavily spiked with hope, that a Downton movie could materialize in the future if Julian Fellowes were inspired to write it.
Neame didn’t close the door on that possibility Monday, though he also didn’t open it any further.
Asked directly about a movie, he said, “Well . . . .” and changed the subject.
He did joke that the way TV jumps on revivals these days, “Someone may reinvent this show 30 years from now, long after we’re all retired.”
Personally, he said, “I want to know what happens when Baby George becomes the new Lord Grantham, maybe in the 1960s.”
It was that kind of loose, jovial night Monday, and while everyone was careful to avoid spoilers, here are 10 other moments from the panel:
1. When cast members were asked about their favorite era from the show, Doyle deadpanned, “For Molesley, between 1912 and 1926 nothing got better.”
2. Logan and Carter (left) both said they sensed the growing affection between their characters, but that it was a slow build. “It was romance approaching with the speed of a glacier,” said Carter, while Logan likened it to “a snail on Prozac.”
3. Asked if there were any divide between actors who played the upstairs characters and those who played the downstairs characters, Dockery joked, “I never talk to Daisy [Sophie McShera, the assistant cook].”
McGovern added, with a straight face, “There is a line to be drawn.”
Dockery and McGovern then clasped hands and Dockery said, “We do fit together, don’t we, Mummy?”
Carter, Logan and Doyle then all got up and walked off the stage.
4. Dockery said she was “sad” when Dan Stevens, who played her husband Matthew, left the show after the third season.
But then, she said, “I got such a fantastic storyline. I got nominated for awards. So thank you, Dan!”
5. Several actors said that one of the crucial takeaways from the show was the growing empowerment of women.
“Cora had no control over her life at all in the beginning of the show,” said McGovern. “Playing the character felt like living in a straitjacket. It’s made me grateful for all the freedoms we have today as women.”
6. Carter said that when he auditioned for the role of Carson, “I was struck by one sentence in the description: ‘Carson sits there in his magnificence.’ And I thought, ‘I can do magnificence. I’m your boy here.’ I would have been p---ed if they gave it to anyone else.”
7. The “great joy” of the characters in Downton, said Bonneville, “is that they are all shot through with both poignance and humor. You can get both in the same scene. They have a depth of humanity.”
8. Leech and Logan both pointed to the war years as a crucial turning point for the show and the characters. “Attitudes changed so much then,” Leech said.
9. Dockery (middle, right) said that during the final wrap party for the cast and crew, executive producer Chris Croucher told everyone to “party like it’s 1926.”
10. At the end of the show, Doyle cautioned, “Not everything is tied up in bows. Some of what happens next is left to the audience’s imagination.”
Or Julian Fellowes’s imagination, if he feels the urge to write a movie. Just saying.
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Daphne Macklin
Fellowes did one of my favorite movies, Gosford Park. I would suggest, humbly of course, that he consider moving into the years just before WWII starts and set things in London at Grantham House. That could be great fun.
Dec 11, 2015   |  Reply
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