In Downton Abbey, the British actor Dan Stevens played one of Lady Mary’s lovers, Matthew Crawley. After he requested to be written out of the series, however, Stevens’ character did not last very long. Why did he want to abandon the Abbey at Downton?
Dan Stevens’ former ‘Downton Abbey’ cast member on why he left after season 3
Stevens disclosed in a recent interview with Collider why he left the cast of such a popular period drama in its prime.
“It was a real challenge, just the number of people that were involved in that series. You really had 20 main characters, plus the house!” he explained, implying that in the kitchen there were so many cooks (er, actors). “And so it was a really interesting puzzle to put this thing together.”
Stevens also states that during the course of the seasons, he had no idea what Downton Abbey would become.
…It felt very much like every other British period drama we did when we started working on it,”…When we started working on it, it felt very much like every other British period drama we did,” To Collider, Stevens explained:
“I mean, when we began episode 1, I don’t think anyone would have said, ‘Hey, here comes this freak phenomenon that’s going to be the most watched TV show in Spain ever,’ or whatever.
But when we started, you know, it was more of a story set in another fancy English house upstairs and downstairs… we were just really thankful for the job, you know? And we had no idea what it was going to turn into.
In his “Downton Abbey” character Matthew Crawley, Dan Stevens felt pigeonholed
Not to mention, in his role as a “period drama” man, Stevens started to feel pigeonholed. He wanted to play new, interesting characters he had never played before – but no one sent him those kinds of roles.
“A few scripts came in about World War I trenches,” he recalls of his time at Downton Abbey.
The venue, too, didn’t help.
“… The…” There are some narrow strips of stuff that are done there, particularly in England, compared to, say, America,” Stevens told Collider.
Stevens says he was placed in a “bracket” where it was thought, “Well, he’s doing genteel domestic dramas and kind of World War II dramas and floppy hair stuff!” “He felt pulled back every time he tried to step forward.
‘And then I came to America,’ concluded Stevens, laughing.
In 2017, Stevens told the Press Association about his post-Downton Abbey career, according to the Independent, adding, “Initially it was a narrower range of roles that I took or allowed myself to do or was offered.”
That’s why the actor has moved on to the United States, where he is happy that he has discovered more possibilities.
“Since I’ve been in the U.S., I’ve moved on in all kinds of directions and have been lucky enough to find people who have been willing to let me try these things, which is great,” Stevens shared.
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Since his Season 3 departure, how has Dan Stevens’ acting career evolved?
Stevens commented on his career after “Collider” in the 2020 “Downton Abbey.” interview.
The actor admits, “There was never a big game plan.”
“They were all saying, ‘What was your intention after you left Downton Abbey? ‘There really wasn’t one, except there was something else I wanted to do,’ explained Stevens.
He also wanted to step out of his comfort zone, although the actor was frequently offered roles and auditioned after leaving Downton.
He acknowledged that it meant “saying no to some things,” including at the beginning some of “those World War I trench dramas at the beginning.”
“You know, I’m sure I’ll do one again, and it will be great,” he said. “But if I kept saying yes to the same things over and over again, I’d stay in this tight band.”
The “Downton Abbey” alum shared, “I’d say it’s only recently that I was actually able to say, ‘Do you know what?” “Now I want to do this.”‘
Since The Man Who Invented Christmas in 2017, Stevens seems to have more than broken out of his period-drama shell. He starred in several episodes of the FX series Legion, as well as several episodes of the critically acclaimed HBO series High Maintenance.
The “Downton Abbey” alum also starred alongside Harrison Ford in the 2020 film “The Call of the Wild” as well as with Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams in the Netflix comedy “Eurovision Song Contest”