It's official: Dan Stevens steps down from 'Downton'
Plus, one humongous spoiler you may not want to read
Warning: Spoiler ahead. Do not read if you don't want to know what happened on the "Downton Abbey" Christmas special that aired in the U.K. Proceed at your own peril!
It's official: "Downton Abbey" will have a Dan Stevens-shaped hole in it. Matthew Crowley, the series' main romantic lead, will not appear in Season 4. (Season 3 concluded in the U.K. in November and doesn't begin airing on PBS until Jan. 6.)
“We were always optioned for three years,” Stevens, who played the love interest to Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), told Britain's Telegraph newspaper. “And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."
OK, now. Remember the part of our headline about the "humongous spoiler you may not want to read"? This news is already spreading like wildfire over social media, so it's out there. But if having surprises ruined is not your idea of fun, it is strongly recommended that you click away before beginning the next paragraph. May we suggest MSN's excellent Year in Photos gallery or this story about the petition to deport Piers Morgan?
Spoiler alert: At the end of a post-Season 3 Christmas special that aired Tuesday night in the U.K. -- this is your final chance to stop reading, folks! -- Matthew Crowley was killed behind the wheel of his own car while en route to deliver some good news to his family. The shock, according to British papers, has cast a thick pall over Boxing Day.
You are now imbued with the power of knowledge, knowledge that can be used for good or evil. The choice is up to you.
Season 3 of "Downton Abbey" premieres Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.
So? Julian Fellowes will no doubt, inspire us all with Matthew's loss and then intrigue us even more with some new twist or turn in the Crawley family. As long as Julian, the writer of it all, remains at the helm, we are safe and sound with whatever situations he invents. As an actor, Dan will no doubt fade into obscurity as so many others have, who take such courses after so notable a one series role. Mary needs a larger than life Gatsby type guy to assuage her loss of Matthew....perhaps someone who'll make some sexy love scenes worth watching.... and not drop dead in the course of things. It could be some Australian mogul...........no wait, I do hate that Aussie accent so. Maybe he can be some dashing banking tycoon to save the day for Mary's family after the Crash and the Depression from Wall Street. Not knowing the breadth of the season just wrapped up in England, makes it hard to add any definitive storylines. We will hold our breath and please continue to fund PBS however you can.
I too watch just for the "dowerger aunt" character.....praise God this show is not on Bravo or they would give her own "spin-off' and ruin it for us! I want to be just like her character when I get old---er and am thinking of already blinging out my cane.......
How terribly sad for all parties, but what has been done cannot be undone. I had heard rumblings that Stevens would not return for a fourth season. Somehow, I knew the exit of Matthew Crawley would happen exactly as it did.
Just because there was a three-year option on Downton Abbey, doesn't mean that Stevens should have opted out early. As a key player in the series, unless Julian Fellowes wanted to be rid of Matthew, it reflects badly on Stevens as someone who will bolt at the first opportunity with dreams of moving on to bigger and better things.
Before making his Downton Abbey exit, Dan Stevens would have been wise to seek the counsel of ex-pat, David McCallum. Stevens is not in as good a stead as McCallum, who had more than a few period dramas in his C.V. as well as roles in some prestigious movies when he packed up his family upon being chosen for the role of Judas in "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
McCallum's meteoric rise in fame in the 60's was a matter of luck, but he worked hard to achieve it and faced sacrifices he never anticipated. "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." kept McCallum in the lime-light for three years, and he said in an interview with Mike Douglas that all the hysteria had moved on within two years afterwards. Since the 60's, McCallum has taken jobs in both the US and the UK to keep his career going. Despite the U.K. cult classic series, "Sapphire and Steel", McCallum didn't receive serious notoriety again until being cast on "N.C.I.S."
Downton Abbey gave Stevens his boost in popularity, but what Stevens has known is a fraction of what McCallum enjoyed in the 60's.
At this point, all we can say to Stevens is good luck. Stage in the U.S,. can be fickle, though, and making decent money with stage roles is, at best, like playing roulette with one's future. Substantial movie roles for British actors can be fickle, though a few actors enjoy a fair amount of success. With Hugh Grant's reaching his 40's, his years as the young, romantic lead are waning, maybe Stevens will find some success filling roles that would have been passed on to a younger Grant. Whether Stevens will enjoy success on U.S. television beyond bit parts and soap operas is an equally fickle.
Let us hope Crawley's wreck isn't a foreshadowing of the wreck of young Stevens' career.