Cast: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Matthew Goode, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Allen Leech, Tuppence Middleton, Stephen Campbe
Director: Michael Engler
Synopsis: We return to the Great House with the most illustrious guests the Crawley family could ever hope to entertain, their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary. With a dazzling parade and lavish dinner to orchestrate, Mary, now firmly at the reins of the estate, faces the greatest challenge to her tenure as head of Downton.
The calibre of the visitors causes quite a rumpus below stairs too and cracks begin to form in the usually well-oiled machine. Mary pleads with the retired Carson to return to the house, just this once, to oversee this most significant event but not everything goes to plan. The loyal Downton staff must pull out all the stops in order to ensure success and that the place they are proud to call home is presented in its greatest light.
The King and Queen bring with them a lady-in-waiting whose own story will prove explosive to the Crawleys and the future of Downton. The arrival of royalty is not a coup for all though: as an erstwhile Irish republican, Tom Branson's political sympathies get him into trouble. Inspired by Branson's republican stance, Daisy starts her own revolt in the kitchens and when Thomas is forced to take a step back by Carson's return, his indulgences during his newly found free time lead to misfortune.
The sisters weather this latest disruption as best they can, but when The King offers Edith's husband Bertie a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it causes conflict between them. When Violet reveals some surprising news, it becomes clear that Mary must make some important decisions, for herself, for her family and for Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey The Movie
Release Date: September 12th, 2019
The Genesis Of Downton Abbey
When Gareth Neame, (CEO, Carnival Films and Executive Producer on Downton Abbey), began talking to Julian Fellowes about developing a new television drama series, it was an adaptation of Julian's acclaimed novel Snobs that he had in mind. Discussions quickly turned to a subject that Gareth had been mulling over for some time and, as luck would have it, Julian had been thinking along similar lines.
"It was while working on an adaptation of Julian's novel Snobs that I first thought we should really work on an episodic series set in an Edwardian country house," says Neame. "Firstly, because it is a setting that is uniquely English and we haven't had an original programme like this in many years and secondly, Julian and I both thought it was good territory to revisit."
"I couldn't think of anyone in the world better to write it than Julian and obviously there was a very big nod towards Gosford Park, which had made such a huge impact on defining the English country house genre," he explains.
"I thought, if you could just take that period and put it into a prime-time series, you could have something really special," he continues.
For Gareth there are a few television genres that are uniquely American and some that are uniquely British of which Downton Abbey is one.
"When I read Julian's initial treatment it had such a confidant command of this period and grasp of this world, the family, the servants, and the entire setting that it was clear this was something he had wanted to write for a long time."
For Julian, Gosford Park struck a chord with audiences everywhere and it was a period he was keen to return to.
"I had never written a television series before and I found you have such tremendous freedom to develop the characters. The way of life of these fully staffed houses had always interested me, long before I wrote Gosford Park. There is something intriguing about a group of people living in such close proximity and yet with such different expectations."
In these country houses, Julian talks of families living within "a curious universe, alongside their servants who are, on the whole, living a different life but are just as strongly graded as their masters so that, within their world, the butler is King and the housekeeper is Queen, with all their own hopes and dreams."
"It always intrigues me how did people deal with it, did they retain a sense of self? I hope in Downton we have a very balanced set up as both Gareth and I wanted it to be something recognisable and identifiable to audiences."
The Edwardian period is not often portrayed in television drama, with dramatists and writers favouring the regency period of Jane Austen instead.
"This is a time that perhaps our parents, but more likely our grandparents, would have lived in, so it's not a completely foreign country," explains Gareth. "The modern era began at the end of the 19th Century and this was something Julian and I discussed a lot. By the late 19th century, electricity came in and then gradually motor-cars, telephones, people commuting to work on the London Underground or on a bus and then came mortgages and pensions and are all things that modern audiences recognise and identify with."
"My father was born in 1912," adds Julian, "So 1912, which is the year the television series began, is a period that many people alive today have heard about from their immediate family members; it's still relatively recent history."
Crucial to the look and feel of the show was for Gareth to bring modernity to the design without compromising the period.
"We wanted the show to have a contemporary feel to it without losing any of the glorious elements that made the era unique. I think this is helped by it being an original script allowing the audience to enjoy all the trappings associated with period drama."
Julian was also keen to portray what it was like to live and work in service during this time and for women, particularly young women, service was the only option.
"When the economic system changed, people, and most particularly women, began to be offered jobs where they could have a free evening instead of being on duty until they went to bed. It was clearly a better option. Remember during this time we saw the rise of women's rights, the organisation of labour, the changing status of the worker, the massive increase of productivity in the Midlands, so the modern world was pushing though and in fact the First World War would release all of that energy," explains Julian
The ambition of Downton Abbey was realised, not only in the script, but in the design, the location, the production values, and ultimately the casting. For Gareth, the excitement of being a producer is to watch these elements come together.
"I enjoy the whole process of filming from beginning to end," he says, "It's a process that's made of a lot of different talents and skills and seeing each of them come together is hugely rewarding; I mean the whole operation, including working very closely on the development and at that point its very much about the script; then at a certain point it becomes about the casting, locations, costumes, make-up and hair, then editing and suddenly the most important thing you're working on is music and finally the publicity. I really do enjoy all of those aspects of production," he explains.
"Ultimately for me as a producer it's seeing the finished product coming together. You create something of value that has a purpose and will entertain."
Before any of these elements can come together, getting the right producer on board is vital to the success of any production.
"I asked Liz (Trubridge) to be the series producer, not least because of her track record, but mainly because of her relationship with Julian I knew that would work very well for us. She's been a great blessing for me and run such a tight ship. Nigel Marchant is an excellent producer, who I have enjoyed working with in the past. It really makes my life a thousand times easier having such a great team on the ground."
For Gareth, casting was also crucial for Downton Abbey but what can often be difficult and arduous process was in fact very straightforward.
"It was a joy to cast this drama purely because it wasn't hard to find the actors you would want to play this part and we were blessed that pretty much everyone we went to came on-board."
One of Julian's many considerable achievements with the scripts is to create many characters, introduce them all in the first episode and give them storylines.
"Julian has got a great command of every single one of those characters and the journeys they go on and that really gives the actors something they can get their teeth into."
"The modern audiences' viewing habits are much more sophisticated now and viewers are able to handle lots of information simultaneously, most likely as a result of the increasing pace of television dramas such as Chicago Hope and The West Wing," says Julian.
One of the most important characters in the script was the house itself and despite visiting Highclere Castle first, Gareth, Julian and the production team spent six months visiting many different houses eventually returning to Highclere Castle. With its 1,000 acres of grounds, landscaped by Capability Brown, the Castle provided the perfect backdrop for Downton Abbey.
"Finding the hero location was a funny journey because from day one Julian said the house he had in mind was Highclere. When the show was greenlit I came down to have a look around," recalls Gareth.
"Initially, it seemed wrong to just tick the box without exploring other options because it was such a key factor in the show and probably the singular most important character," he adds. "One of the reasons we came back to Highclere was that our production designer (Donald Woods), made a point that the show was set in Edwardian England and many period dramas over the last few years have tended to be set in Georgian houses."
"Highclere's gothic look felt so different to other period dramas and we were keen to make a fresh statement so the show could stand out."
Julian's passion for great houses is well documented and for him the choice of Highclere Castle as the location for Downton Abbey was an easy one. However, with a huge ensemble cast, supporting artists and a crew of over 100 it was important from a logistical point of view that the house was accessible.
"I love Highclere and wanted Gosford to be at Highclere. But Bob Altman very much wanted people to be able to sleep in their beds and so we had to move nearer to London to Wrotham, (another wonderful house). To me, Highclere is a unique architectural statement and tells us so much more about the wonderful confidence of the late Victorians and the confidence of high Empire," observes Julian.
Highclere Castle is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnavon and their family and is undoubtedly one of England's most beautiful castles set amidst spectacular parkland. The Carnavons' ancestors have lived at Highclere since 1679.
"The Castle has some wonderful interiors especially the library which is an absolutely marvellous room. It's a very quintessential English Library and the Great Hall is wonderful", adds Fellowes.
It was always the plan to film the state rooms and public rooms on location, however, over the years the kitchens and the bedrooms of large country houses have changed dramatically therefore it was necessary to build the servants quarters, kitchen, and bedrooms in a studio.
"The thing about filming in these great houses is that if you were to start from scratch, you simply couldn't build this and if you did you would have used up all your budget in one room."
The Making Of The Downton Abbey Film
By Julian Fellowes
The return to Downton Abbey has been a rather extraordinary, at times almost surreal, experience. We finished filming the last season in 2015, made sure that all the characters were safely tucked up in their lives, said goodbye to them, marked the moment with a wonderful wrap party in the Ivy Club, and that, I thought, was that. But it seemed the public was not yet quite prepared to be parted from the Crawleys and their servants and the rumours of a film grew and grew until Gareth Neame and the rest of the team felt unable to resist them. And so the film was born.
For me, the desire for a film of a series is an expression of how much people miss the show, itself, and, besides, in Downton Abbey the house was the main character in the drama. It was the demands of the house that drove storyline after storyline and their love of the house that made the family stand by it. So I knew from the start that we would be back at Highclere for a lot of the time.
A long-running series is quite unlike any other kind of dramatic form, certainly for the writer but I think for everyone involved. It is the only time that you are writing for (or directing) performances you are already familiar with, played by actors you know and enjoy in the roles. With a play or a musical or most movies, you write and (usually) finish the script before it is cast. But, with Downton, I was looking at the episode cuts by the time I was writing Episode Four of the first series. I had got to know these characters; I had got to see what the actors could do with them, and I started to write to their strengths of which this wonderful cast had many. Their performances shaped the narrative as much as anything and, after six years of that process, unsurprisingly, you do get very involved with these invented but very real-feeling people. I'm always being asked which character was my favourite, but the truth is, they were all my favourites. They were my children. I created them and the actors and I grew up in the roles, in the world of Downton Abbey, together.
I have been lucky in the years since Downton finished, with musicals in the West End and on Broadway, two movies out this year and two television shows now in pre-production, so I have no grounds for complaint, but of course I rather miss the sort of security that the world of Downton gave me. It is a marvellously unhurried form of drama. You can hint and suggest and choose the moment to kick off a new story, but no one's in a hurry. So of course I miss it and, in that way, it was fun to be back in their fictional lives. But writing the film wasn't the same as working on the show had been. In a television episode, you will normally give strong stories to four or maybe five characters and the others will simply participate in one of them. Then the following week a different four or five will get their stories and the rest of the cast will support them. But in a film everyone must have their tale to tell and all of them must be resolved, which meant quite a bit of plaiting. We chose to make the Royal visit the central strand. King George V and Queen Mary would tour Yorkshire and spend a night at Downton, and all the different narratives, some happy, some less so, would be tangential to this main event. This was not too much of a stretch, in terms of reality. Their eldest daughter, Princess Mary, the Princess Royal after 1932, would later live at Harewood with her husband and, at the date of the film, was living at Goldsborough Hall and so Yorkshire was not at all off the beaten track for her parents. Making the film gave us the opportunity to manage things on a grander scale than we could have done on television and the Royal couple (brilliantly played by Simon Jones and Geraldine James) provide us with the excuse to fill the screen with pomp and pageantry. Added to which, we would explore how our old friends would react to the honour, and the answer is, not all of them favourably. But you will have to see the film to learn the different responses on display.
We had a readthrough at Twickenham Studios, before shooting began, and suddenly there we were, all the faces that had dominated my waking hours from ten years previously, sitting side by side round a vast square of tables, scripts open before them, ready to get back into the skins of the Downton regulars. Writing is a funny business. You spend so much time alone, staring at a computer screen, waiting for ideas, and then suddenly – or it feels like suddenly – it becomes real and there are recces and fittings and a crew working feverishly to get everything ready and your words aren't yours any more. They belong to the actors and the director and, finally, the public. But it is always a strange moment when you hear them read, or acted, for the first time and somehow seeing this cast, which had dispersed with farewells and kisses three years earlier, made it stranger still. During the filming I would visit the set at Shepperton Studios where, years before, my life had changed with the making of Gosford Park, and there I would wonder at the skills on display from every brilliant department and the ease with which the actors reassumed their roles, and now it is time to step back and to let the audience into our secret. I hope you enjoy the finished product as much as I do.
Beginnings Of The Idea For The Film
"We started our conversations about the Downton movie around about season three or four of the television show. I think at that point we didn't know exactly how many seasons we were going to run to, but we did think that the show was so popular it had quite a cinematic feel. We thought it would work and transfer well to the big screen.
"Once the seed had been sown the conversations really took off around season five and six. We decided we would bring the TV series to an end after season six, which many people felt was a bit too soon. I think we certainly could have done at least another season but we wanted to quit while we were ahead. The fact we were able to say to the fans that the show is going to end after the sixth series, but we hope to come back with a movie… it sort of sweetened the pill."
Differences Between TV And Film
"We wanted to take a step back from making episodic stories of the week and do something that was more of a big screen event. The crucial difference is that in a television series with twenty characters, each character has a couple of episodes where they can be right to the fore and a couple of episodes when they're more in the background. The audience gets to see the entire ensemble and enjoy their stories across the whole series. In the movie you've only got two hours, and those twenty characters have really got to punch through. Not many movies have that many characters so there was a real challenge with the script to have one story that all of our characters could be engaged in.
"They all had meaningful roles to play in that story. To keep all those characters spinning was a real challenge at the script development stage.
"We wanted to ensure the characters remained together. Given that we haven't been on air for three years I felt strongly that the fans want to go back to that place, it is called Downton Abbey for a reason.
"It's about that precinct and it's very important to return to the precinct albeit on a bigger and hopefully more majestic scale. So we are returning to that place that people love."
The Royal Visit
"We discussed lots of different ideas for the movie and it was Julian's eventual decision to decide on the visit of the King and Queen to Downton. It felt such a simple and single endeavour that all the characters could be involved in. It would be a treat, an event and a challenge for the characters so that's why we very quickly got behind that idea. As a theme it's introduced right from the opening frames and it begins as a rather exciting opportunity particularly for the servants to meet the Royal Family and have the proudest day of their lives. It becomes clear that the Royal household has different ideas, and that although the King and Queen will be coming to visit, they're going to do things their way. The Buckingham Palace staff were going to take over meaning the moment of glory for our much-loved below stairs characters is going to be lost.
"We see the servants really brought to a low ebb when they realise they're completely redundant and are barely going to see the Royal Family, let alone serve them or cook for them. Gradually though, we see our heroes fight back and manage to find various distractions for the Royal staff that allow the Downton staff to step in and run the whole show."
"With our key story, the arrival of the King and Queen, it was inevitable that casting those roles was going to be central. Linked to the King and Queen's story is a family story that concerns a character called Lady Bagshaw played by Imelda Staunton, an actress that we've known and long admired who is of course in real life married to Jim Carter who plays Mr Carson. Imelda is related to the Crawley's, but now she really is part of the Downton family. Simon Jones plays the King and Geraldine James plays the Queen. Below stairs David Haig gives us a fantastic cameo as the Royal Butler. He's an actor I haven't worked with for many, many years now, but I've always liked and admired.
"We also have a love story for Tom Branson which was an important dimension to the script and has resulted in one of my favourite scenes in the whole film."
What Does Making The Film Mean To You?
"When the television show ended I made a lot of comments at the time about the possibility of making a film and it felt like a contract I had made with the fans. At the time I didn't know whether that would be possible. It would mean 20+ calendars aligning and having a script we were happy with, not to mention pulling the financing together to make it. There were so many obstacles along the way, but I really felt that if I didn't get the film off the ground I would have failed the fans in some way so I really wanted to achieve it.
"It's been a huge journey for us and over a decade since I first proposed the series premise to Julian Fellowes. We were in pre-production for the series in 2009 and in 2019 we're seeing the release of the movie, so I've worked on Downton Abbey every single day across those ten years. Getting the movie into production and to release is the real icing on a rather large cake."
Memorable Days On Set
"I don't believe The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery have participated in a movie before. They're often featured on television, doing their normal day-to-day ceremonial work. In the Downton movie they are playing a historical reserve unit and because the guns and uniforms that the King's Troop wear today are basically identical to what a Yeomanry Regiment would have worn in the 1920s they effectively turned up camera ready. We were able to take this modern unit of highly trained cavalry and put them straight into the film but it took a lot of discussion and negotiation to work our calendar around their calendar.
"Bringing more than a hundred troopers and their horses to this village meant that we had to build stables and a camp for them all to stay in, so, it was a huge logistical undertaking but it all went incredibly well. To have all our cast in their wonderful costumes and the 80+ troops on horseback on one of the most beautiful days of the year was quite a memorable sight."
Memorable Scenes In The Movie
"There are too many to mention, the ball room scene, the parade, moments between Maggie and Michelle, but one of the funniest scenes in the film is when Molesley oversteps the mark with the King and Queen when it all gets a bit too much for him. Kevin Doyle who plays Molesley is obviously one of our great comic actors. Not that he's only a comic actor, he's a brilliant actor in every respect, but his comedy is astonishing and Molesley is such a great character. I think he really delivers in one scene in particular where he disgraces himself in front of the Royal Family and it's a very beautiful moment."
What Is It About Downton That Still Captivates Audiences In 2019?
"I've always felt there's a perennial interest in the English country house. It's a unique environment that is quintessentially British yet can travel. What we did with Downton was to take that recognisable world that is really only British and combine a much-loved genre with very modern contemporary, almost 'soap style' writing. Downton was not an adaptation of a book, which so many of these types of shows have been. It was an original, contemporary piece of writing, from an extraordinary, imaginative mind - from a writer who knows that world very well, is fascinated by it and understands its workings.
"All of us live in families and arrange ourselves into hierarchies whether that's within our own families or in our workplaces. We understand that about the world and although Downton is a very heightened world with strict rules and codes of behaviour, as human beings anywhere on the planet we respond to those things, we understand the way that they're behaving, and we enjoy the rarefied world that they inhabit."
Success Of Downton
"The idea of Downton had been percolating in my mind for a long time, because I always felt that the world is a very interesting one. When I saw Gosford Park I was incredibly impressed by it. Julian Fellowes had won the Academy Award for his screenplay. It really stayed with me. Then, a few years later I collaborated with Julian on a novel of his which didn't come to fruition, but this idea of making an episodic series set in an English country house was in the back of my mind; taking the idea of Gosford Park but spinning it off as an episodic show.
"I think if I hadn't persuaded Julian to do it, it would never had got made. I think I would have just put the idea away and not taken it any further. Like everything in life it's about timing and it's a mixture of good luck and bad luck. The good luck was that I proposed the idea at the right time to Julian and he said yes. I always believe that with any creative endeavour you've got a hundred decisions to make, and if you can get about fifty of those right you may well have a success on your hands. If you get less than fifty of them right, maybe not. As we made the first season of Downton, every one of the decisions we made, from the broadcast partners we had, ITV in the UK, PBS in the United States, the cast of perfect actors, beautifully written scripts, expertly directed, designed, scored. Every single one of those decisions, for some extraordinary reason, were all right and that's what I think made Downton such a success.
"It touched a nerve with the audience. People loved that world. Everything I'd felt about it turned out to be true. Coupled with that Julian Fellowes created such brilliantly drawn characters that were wonderfully realised by the actors we'd cast. We created a world that audiences wanted to go to over and over again. When there were bereavements the audience felt them as well and when we left the show at the end of the sixth season people were in mourning and missed it. The fans and audience have kept alive the hope over the last two or three years that they would be able to return to Downton and now is the opportunity."
"I want people to leave the theatre reminded that they love the show and why they love it. I want to leave them wanting more. It's a treat for the fans in particular. It's a movie that I think everyone can enjoy but if you're a real fan it brings you right back in connection with that place, that environment, those people, those characters with a whole new raft of stories packed into this two-hour movie. Downton is a world that had good and bad stories. It had dark stories and bright stories, optimistic stories and negative stories, and yet overwhelmingly the sense of optimism is what we are left with. I'd love people to leave the theatre enriched, happy and remembering their love of Downton."
Liz Trubridge – Producer
Idea For The Film
"The idea of a film was something that Julian, Gareth, and I talked about long before we started filming series six, we weren't sure if it was ever going to materialise, but the closer we got to the end of the series, we began to feel there could well be a film. We were very aware that it was not going to be straightforward to get that number of cast back together but as we felt like it would be good to have a bit of a break and then regroup we thought it was at least achievable."
"It was the team at Carnival who had the very tricky task of bringing all the cast and crew back together. It was a huge challenge, nobody in their right mind tries to do one single film with that many lead characters, but the main thing we had going for us was they all wanted to do it. They'd all read the script and signed up to it, it was simply a case of scheduling which for a busy cast like ours was a huge puzzle. Somehow or other the stars aligned and it all came together.
"The read-through was the first time we had everyone in one room and it was a very special moment. We'd built in time before the read-through started, so that lots of embracing could go on!"
"Part of the whole pleasure of Downton Abbey, is where it is set and the house is at the heart of the world we have created. Highclere Castle is iconic and is of course a character in its own right, but for the film we wanted to find a balance between returning to the familiar whilst also delivering something that felt bigger and a little more special.
"We set it during late summer, early autumn and we were blessed with the weather, which was fantastic for all the exterior scenes. It looks like we live in a Mediterranean climate. Every time we went outside it seemed that the sun was shining and it allowed us to use drones and to have a helicopter.
"We got to visit so many breathtaking places but my favourite set of all was at Harewood House. It was just staggering. It's such beautiful place and has one of the most stunning views I think I have ever seen from the veranda.
"It is the home of Lord Lascelles and our storyline features Lord Lascelles and Princess Mary. It is historically understood that they had a tricky marriage at first and so Julian wanted it to be very clear that, if we were using it, we were not going to be using it under false pretences. He wrote to Lord Harewood, explaining what we wanted to do and that it would be a small part of the film but assuring him that we were not being derogatory in any way. He asked if we could come and film at Harewood House. Lord Harewood replied with the most charming letter saying we would be most welcome there.
"The series has always been set in Yorkshire, but we hadn't been able to really show that off in the television series, due to the fact that we would need to film up there for long periods of time to do that. However, for the film we were able to showcase Yorkshire and its beautiful scenery. The film also allowed us to show the village of Downton in large scale, which we have never have been able to do in the series. We could take the time and really explore the beauty of where we're filming."
The Royal Visit
"The story centres around the ripple effects of a Royal visit on the family above and below stairs servants. The key events of the film are the preparations for the visit, the arrival, a lunch, a parade with the King inspecting the Yorkshire Hussars and a big Royal dinner. There is then a huge ball held at Harewood House. With the protocol that the palace brings a huge number of their own staff with them it creates the possibility for conflict with the Downton staff, and that makes for some fun."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"The prospect of bringing Downton to the big screen was incredibly exciting and the realisation of it is a dream come true having worked on it from day one. The show has become almost part of our DNA and to be able to take it to another level feels like an enormous privilege.
"The greatest challenge of taking the series to a film is the enormous responsibility we feel to the fans. These are the people we are making it for, if we could manage to scoop up some others along the way that would be great, but we have made this for our very loyal fans. So our overriding intention throughout the whole production has been to make it the very best it can be, nothing was just good enough. It had to be as good as we could get it.
"The TV series always achieved the very highest levels of aesthetic standards, but taking it to the big screen gave us the chance to open it up in terms of scale.
"Michael Engler is an exceptional director. His enthusiasm never wanes and his energy is infectious. He's a powerhouse. He has a quiet confidence that allows him to be very collaborative and that's a very rewarding way of working. He commands enormous respect from the cast and crew.
"Many of our creative team had worked on the TV series, our make-up designer, Anne 'Nosh' Oldham, had designed for the first two series. Her and her very talented team really embraced the challenge of taking this to the big screen. Anna Robbins, our incredible costume designer, did an amazing job creating so many stunning costumes. The detail in each of those costumes is astonishing and we are able, on the big screen, to really show them off and they are just breathtaking. There is a dress that Mary wears at the ball, which is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
"Donal Woods, our wonderful production designer worked across the whole series. We had still kept the downstairs set from the series and some of the bedroom sets, but after several years of being stored away they looked a bit tired, so there were things that were remade and built just slightly larger to allow us to get some different camera angles.
"Ben Smithard, our wonderful director of photography was new to the team but both Michael Engler and I had worked with him before. I had always thought his work was stunning but I was not quite prepared for just how stunning it is on the film, it looks fantastic.
"There were many moments where I just took a deep breath and thought, 'wow, we're doing it' and to have the opportunity to tell this story on a big screen, bring all our characters back together and deliver a bigger version of what we had done for six seasons, was fantastic.
"One of those moments was on the day we filmed the King's parade, we have never shot anything like that before, in fact no-one has because this is the first time that any production have been able to use the King's troop in a feature. It is wonderful that they agreed to work with us and luckily we found one day in our filming schedule that worked for them.
"With the full troop and six- gun carriages, the production team had to arrange for them to get down to the village and set up an enormous camp where we had tack rooms, changing rooms, sleeping quarters, and stables built for all the horses. It was a huge operation."
"The appeal of Downton in 2019 is partly inevitably, a return to the familiar. I also think the stories are universal ones. It's about dealing with love and difficulties and family life and sadness and heartache and conflict. There also tends to be at least one character that people can either identify with or reminds them of someone, and there are those that they love to hate or love to love. These themes are so universal, I was recently talking to a group of Chinese students and I asked them what they related to and they said because the stories are human stories they could relate to the characters."
Michael Engler - Director
Joining The Downton Team
"I first met Liz Trubridge as they were putting together the fifth season, and we were just talking about what it's like making television in the UK and the US, and different projects we were working on. I was already a huge fan of Downton and could practically recite it chapter and verse. Liz was intrigued by the possibility of somebody with an outside perspective, outside this British culture, bringing something new to it at that point in the series. I was very excited at the thought of it because I'd never contemplated it might be possible. We started talking about it and I met with Julian and Gareth and we all just hit it off. I directed one episode in the fifth season and then they invited me back to do a few in the final season.
"The cast and crew are very much an established family. Everybody says that about the industry - that you become a family by the end, but this was a particularly warm one. I felt like there was very little hierarchical distance between the actors, the day players, the crew, the department heads. Everybody treated everybody with such a familial warmth and generosity, and I was really surprised by that. Not that I haven't seen it before, but that after five years it had such ease about it. Even more so, that they welcomed me in that exact same spirit. I wondered, being the only American to direct the show, that there would be some resistance to what I might bring to it, but actually there wasn't at all, it felt like a very natural fit."
"Everybody was so happy to be back together it was like a college reunion; very playful, very happy, but very professional. There was a real sense of joy, and a sense that you've been a part of something that was iconic and historically unique, which is rare. Some people never get to experience that. Wherever you are in your career it starts to really hit you what the impact of Downton Abbey was and is on the world. I think people really relished the idea that they could come back together one more time and be part of that, and make more of it."
Bringing New Ideas To The Table
"In terms of what I would brought to the film, I discovered that not taking certain things for granted about the culture or how society works or how people were supposed to behave or feel would often give rise to an interesting discussion about what underpinned society. I think other crew and cast enjoyed that I would not quite understand something culturally and that would lead to an open debate and discussion."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"In terms of bringing it to the big screen, it was scaled up, both cinematically and in terms of the story. We wanted it to feel like you didn't have to be a diehard fan to enjoy it. However if you were an avid fan or somebody who watched it occasionally you would get a lot of detail about characters and relationships that was full and rich and fulfilling.
"With the film, it needed to feel like one big unifying event that no matter what else was going on in their individual stories, it would bring them all together,
"Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, Stephen Campbell-Moore, Tuppence Middleton and Kate Phillips are all just great players of the British acting community. The way everybody mixed in so naturally was great. I think there was a sense that when everybody came into join the core cast they were really excited to be part of this filmmaking legacy."
"I think fans can expect the best of what they've always loved about Downton Abbey which is romance, suspense, comedy, a sense of being back in a world where each person has an opportunity to define their own sense of honour within the system. The history, the beauty, the costumes, the glorious locations, that's all there, and bigger than ever. It's also about revisiting all the things you've come to know about the show; the emotional relationships, the comedy of it, the relationship of the above stairs family and servants below stairs. It's all woven together incredibly artfully by Julian."
"I think the biggest challenges were really just getting everybody focused so that we could get the film made in the time that we had. Many of the cast were travelling into the UK; from India, New York and California and in some cases only for a day or two, so it was a logistical puzzle to make it work out, but it did in the end."
Downton Abbey's Success
"I think it's the classical values depicted in the show that are universal that contributed towards its success. I think people do feel an inherent sense of nostalgia and realisation that historically we were as similar then as we are now. I also think part of it is just for the same reason that people go to the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery, British history has a particular set of literary, visual, cultural heritage that still resonates for people, and is still beautiful."
Donal Woods - Production Designer
The Beginning Of Downton
"It was 2009 and I had just finished Cranford for the BBC, which was very successful, and Liz Trubridge, (the producer), rang to tell me she was making a period drama for ITV about rich people with servants and it was a year after the global crash. Who was going to watch it? Anyway, we carried on and made it. You can never tell what's going to be a success or not and against all the odds it became a global phenomenon.
"The biggest conversation we had to start with was the house, the big character that is Downton Abbey. We probably researched a hundred houses online, all over Britain and visited over forty. The first house we visited was Highclere. It was about the right size, it was about the right landscape around it and it felt like it could be Yorkshire. There were lots of factors about the house, but we then had a meeting, late in 2009, and we all just said which house we liked the most, it was unanimously Highclere and the rest is history."
"We went to Little Germany in Bradford, which we used as our York streets, exterior of the police station and exterior of a club. We used Turden's club, which was in a warehouse in Keighley. We also went back to Beamish Museum, which was magnificent. The first time we went there it was for the car showrooms, and this time we filmed Mr Bakewell's shop there as well, so I think we've certainly travelled the country in our quest to bring variety to the film. I think on a TV show you wouldn't be able to allow that amount of travel just for one or two scenes, but we were lucky with the movie we could move around a lot more to find the perfect locations."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"I think we had to be loyal to the many fans, so Highclere and the below stairs sets were reconstructed with some tender loving care and we expanded them all to allow for cameras to move around more freely.
"I think you're very conscious of the period, so you know it's post First World War. There wasn't really an explosion of design until 1926, when the words Art Deco appeared. It was about sticking rigidly to the period, not thinking 'Oh, we can use this light or we use this thing because it's beautiful'. It's actually trying to be honest to that post First World War period. London is the greatest place for access to all sorts of research material from the Post Office Museum to the V&A. Of course you've got the internet, but we're very lucky in London to have wonderful museums and the cooperation of all of them."
"They can expect an experience that will be a little bit nostalgic in terms of bringing the TV series back in a sense, but I hope that mostly it'll be a bigger, better, more lavish and a more expansive experience for people going to the cinema. I hope the loyal fans will go, but that also a new audience will come to the cinema and enjoy everything that everybody's contributed to it. From the acting, to the costumes, music, make-up, sound, everything. Hopefully that will just be one of those experiences where they'll come out and have a tear in their eye, in a good way."
The Success Of Downton
"Downton came at a time in television when there were fantastic American series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, all of which are brilliant and all successful. I think the audience just wanted different stories. In the end, if the writing isn't any good, nobody's going to watch it and I think it's the storytelling that Julian has brought to it and the characterisation, which has created six much loved seasons and a brand new film. To entwine that many leading actors and make their stories all knit together, and keep them all interesting is genius, really.."
Anna Robbins - Costume Designer
Development And Research
"When I first came on board for season five I had to get myself up to speed with the decade. I did a huge amount of research. You've got to become an expert in whatever era you're then designing for. I went to the portrait gallery, the V&A, analysed a lot of 1920s garments and started shopping at vintage fairs to look at the cut and the construction. I immersed myself. You can't do enough research as there's always something else you can find, or a little detail that will find its way onto a costume.
"Then we started the process with the work room, where we start cutting shapes, looking at detailing making toiles of garments. From there the fitting process would begin. Alongside that, there's the script that needs to be broken down so that you know from a very practical sense what costumes you need and where. For Downton that is many and varied, because the family change their clothing so often. My job is to make sure that every costume works with the other costumes in the scene, that the scene as a whole is cohesive, and has the right emphasis on the right people: to offset the beautiful surroundings where, hopefully, it all comes together to read to the audience in a very natural way. "
Differences Between Tv And Film
"One of my considerations when we were moving from the television series to the film was that I had fewer costumes with which to tell a story. Over the course of nine episodes, I had hundreds of costumes to paint a picture and tell a story, to get that story arc for each character. I had to hit the nail on the head more succinctly with costume in the film. However I had more time to really craft the scenes, to look at the colour, and make sure the costumes worked with the set decoration and the location itself. I could break the script down into its settings, and really focus on making each one work individually. I also designed from scratch a lot more, so I was able to go back to the real root of a costume, which is the fabric that it's made from. We were dyeing fabrics rather than shopping for them in a colour that already existed so I had even more control over the way it looked.
"The other consideration was that the costumes were going to be seen on a much bigger scale, literally. I used a lot of vintage, authentic pieces, and designed around them, either restoring, customising, or using vintage fabrics and doing something new. All that fabric, all that detailing, all that craft has got to stand up to the scrutiny of being on a massive screen. The quality control when we were shopping was much higher, I was much more selective. You've got to have the impact and effectiveness as a head to toe outfit, but then be able to hone in on detail, and not have it overpower the scene."
"The biggest challenge was the scale of the job. There's a huge number of cast and a huge number of costumes, so to be able to design quickly enough to turn them around and be ready in time was quite a feat. The bigger challenges are more theoretical ones, where I wanted to make sure I was elevating what I'd done before, and I set the bar really high on the television series. To be able to come in and raise that bar, that was a challenge. It was being even more dedicated to the smaller detail, and making sure that we did everything as authentically as we could."
"We were at one of my favourite places on Portobello Market and there was some newly acquired vintage textiles that I wasn't even allowed to see as the stall holder had promised it to someone else. It was described to me, and it almost made me cry, it just sounded so beautiful. She spoke to the collector, who agreed to let us have it instead which was incredible. It was still in its original wax paper, with its original Parisian labelling. We opened it up for the first time as it had never been used. It was this beautifully delicate embroidered silk tulle that we used on Violet's ball gown for Harewood House. As well as lengths of gold metallic lace trim that we used on Violet's Royal dinner dress."
"My favourite costume has to be Lady Mary's ball gown. It started off as a knee-length dress with a very different neckline. When I found it, I knew I wanted Mary to be in something quite bold and monochromatic. The level of embellishment is just astonishing. It's French and beaded onto muslin, so it's still quite strong. We grafted the bottom of the skirt on, and added this black neck piece, that then hangs and drapes down her back. I know how Michelle wears clothes, I know how she's going to stand to give you this amazing profile. It gave the most amazing movement when she was dancing. It's a real journey for that hundred-year-old piece of clothing to end up where it has."
Anne Nosh Oldham - Hair And Makeup Designer
Challenges Of Individuality
"In the beginning the main challenges were that we had a core of 18 actors that we wanted to look individual and have a personality of their own. We were very keen to keep the period slightly separate. We had Maggie and Penelope whose characters are still firmly rooted in the Edwardian era. Then we brought things on a little bit with Cora, then we had the three girls again all with different personalities, and that was upstairs. Downstairs we were very aware again of the fact that they all needed to look very individual, because it's a very stark dress code downstairs. We wanted that when they were moving around the corridors, their silhouettes would tell you who that person was, even if they didn't have dialogue at the time, so you could recognise shapes and personalities within the groups.
"In the film some of the characters are true to history, but again we wanted everyone to retain some degree of individuality. When we had Lady Bagshaw come in played by Imelda Staunton, she has a certain station in life and also quite a nice backstory, which we wanted to reflect in the way she looks. When she's sitting with Cora and Violet and the Queen, they all have a very different sort of look. It's always challenging because the last thing you want is to have two people sitting next to each other and thinking they look the same, so you work really hard to make them feel right."
Coming Back To Downton
"I was thrilled to be invited back and when the phone call came that was wonderful. It was like coming back to work with old mates. The cast are divine. They really are a lovely bunch of people and they're very talented. It was fantastic to work with Gareth and Liz again. From my point of view it was particularly nice because my team and I had started the whole thing off in series one, but since I left and returned a whole chunk of time has gone by. Familiar people, lovely characters, but very different to how I styled them when I first started. So it was great to be able to move it on and sharpen it all up and make it very filmic."
The Style Of 1927
"At the end of season six Mary was the first one to have a bob, and this was very fashion-forward, so we sharpened her look up completely. We wanted her to be really on point, on fashion. Then it was time really for everyone else to start following suit. Then Edith came in, so we started cutting hair, bringing in bobs and shorter looks. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) for instance would have copied Mary's style albeit in a much simpler form."
The Biggest Challenge
"There's some seriously good wig work going on there, and they take a lot of maintaining. The Queen was a pretty monster hairdo. The biggest challenge always is to make everyone look very stylish but very natural. You don't want the audience to spot a wig or a false moustache. We want everything to blend in such a way that everyone looks real and natural."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"I think from the very start everyone was aware that it is a film now and it's not a series. We wanted everything to have the familiarity of Downton, but make everything really sharp because it is a movie and it's going to be seen on big screens."
"I always go to paintings for my research. The internet is just a joy, but I've got lots of books at home. What we were very careful of here was, because you're verging on the flappers of the 1920s and the real heavily made-up look, not to go too far. Even though they're very fashion conscious, these girls are not clubbing. They're married, so we wanted them to be in the era, but we were very careful not to make them look like they're just about to go out on the razz. I sometimes think when you do a period piece if you push it too much it starts to look like it's a magazine piece rather than an actual drama so we would sort of go there and then we knock it back a bit."
"I think inspiration is always a jumble of things, so maybe for Lady Mary I would show about six or seven different feelings within the look we wanted. Then what we do is work out which would work best. You never lock into one thing because if it doesn't work then you've got nowhere to go. So you lock into a feeling and a whole general look, and then you slowly but surely, with tests and wig fittings, find what works really well. You want the actress or actor to like how they look, because they've got to live this character."
John Lunn - Composer
The Title Theme
"The title theme score of Downton Abbey is a key part of its branding and has been since the first episode of the television series. You hear the opening bars and you immediately know where you are. Initially at the start of episode one of the series there were no titles: it was just the telegram and the train. It started with the train, which was rather simplistically the single piano notes, and you immediately cut to a one shot of the train in the English countryside with Mr Bates looking forlornly out of the train window. I picked out these high notes on the piano that were lovely and separate from the rest."
"It was actually easier than I was expecting. It was like being back home again, with Gareth, Liz, and Michael. We were such a good team over that number of years along with Nigel, our sound-dubbing mixer, who was an important part of it. He knew the confines of all the dialogue and the sound effects, which was reassuring for me. We all really enjoyed it."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"The tunes all existed but I went back to square one to start from scratch. I slightly changed some things as by the time we've got to the end of season six, some of the tunes have lasted all the way through. We had a bigger orchestra with the film which meant a slight difference in the way that I wrote the music and what you can and cannot do. For the TV series we had around 35 musicians in the orchestra, so we doubled it for the film. It's still Downton but it has to sound better and grander. You've got a bigger soundstage to fill.
"The first five minutes of the movie is basically all music, which is an amazing gift to get. We wanted to hold off on the main theme until you actually see Downton Abbey itself. That gives a great lead up to it. It's almost like a compendium of tunes of Downton apart from the main theme until the house comes into view about three minutes in."
"Characters don't have themes or tunes for themselves. It is more about the relationships they have with the people around them. For instance Branson has tended to take on more of the themes that I'd originally written for him and Sybil. Interestingly, the ghost of Sybil pops up in the movie. It's like she's still there. Then Mary and Matthew; when Matthew died, he took so many of my tunes to the grave with him but he always manages to pop up somehow. Some of those tunes are still associated with Mary, in one way or another, but they've just been transformed into Mary and another lover for example. It is a musical preface and harmony that characters and relationships are associated with."
Alastair Bruce - Historical Advisor
"As a Historical Advisor you worry whether people will pay any attention to you, but I very quickly realised back in the beginning that, with Brian Percival, the first Director of the television series, and with Liz Trubridge, the Producer, there was going to be absolute attention paid to the advice that I was giving. Slowly, the various actors realised that this support structure I was giving was valuable. Collectively, we helped to deliver a story that people found so powerfully effective, for reasons we couldn't put our finger on exactly. It's very difficult for people to know all the subtle protocols, the particular ways of the class system at the time we're trying to recreate. It is something that I care greatly about, having studied the court and how it works through the centuries. With Downton Abbey we've brought that knowledge to life by bringing it into the delivery of the narrative. I hope that the historical accuracy, and that detail helped people's subconscious get into the story, and go legitimately on a journey into a strange and different time."
"Most of the challenges I faced were to do with how people in general stand, as most people now have shoulders that slope forward and downcast heads. We're changing shape as human beings. If you look at film of the period, you'll see people are much more upright, much more erect. Partly because the clothing made people stand like that. Now a lot of people do what I call crotch grabbing, where they put their hands in front of their nether regions. That can only be achieved if your shoulders are sloped forward. If your shoulders are in the right position, you actually can't reach that point of your body. So those elements are always in mind. Also challenging is the way in which people handle each other. There's a desire in this day and age to express emotion physically. In those days of course, people never touched each other. I always point out that one of the reasons that people didn't touch each other is because there were no antibiotics. In a sense, that's one of the reasons we feel able to be so interactive now. By getting that element of life right, you help people into a period that's totally different from our own."
"Throughout the television series, I enjoyed the fact that if you talk to actors about a period, they love to bring it to life, and to grasp the tools that you provide for them. The bit that I'm particularly proud of was when we recreated the presentation at court of Lady Rose. Lady Grantham took her, and we had those wonderful court curtsies. Every element of what I'd researched at Windsor Castle, we brought to life, including the very music that was played. It was the first court that had taken place since the First World War so it was recorded in these documents. I remember waiting in the archives at Windsor and hearing the squeaking wheels as the trolley came into the room where I was to do this research in this terribly dusty volume. In it all the details of precisely who was presented, how it was done, what the music was, what the food was. Then passing that on, to the development elements of this amazing show, and seeing it brought to life, was so rewarding. I was also lucky enough to play the part of the Lord Chamberlain, who reads out the names. I enjoyed that."
"Absolutely everyone, from the Earl, Lord Grantham at the top, down to the most junior kitchen maid has their place. They are in this social framework of the countryside, where the great house sits amid acres and acres of rolling, well run farmland. You know that the families who work on this estate are all utterly loyal to his Lordship, because they know his Lordship is responsible for them. He pays them and he looks after their cottages. He makes sure that the rain doesn't come in. It's almost impossible to realise, what a tremendously effective social structure it all was. With this great sense of responsibility being carried by those with privilege and benefit and protection for those at the bottom of the system. All of them expressed loyalty in different directions, because if one doesn't express loyalty down, you can't expect it to come up."
Hugh Bonneville Plays Robert Crawley
Reprising The Role Of Robert Crawley
"The most exciting aspect of coming back to this world, quite simply, is being back with the same group of people with whom I spent six very happy seasons. As for Robert's story, he is the 'big daddy' of the household. In the past we've seen him trying to shepherd his daughters into shape, deal with financial catastrophes (some of how own making!), deal with various intrigues both above and below stairs... but it's safe to say that as we begin our movie, he's in a fairly calm place for once.
"Not much has changed since we left the television show. We've nudged on in time, you can see that Robert's grandchildren are that little bit older, but things are much as they were, the world hasn't shifted on its axis and that's fine for a conservative like Robert.
"I think back to season one of the television series and reading about the sinking of the Titanic in the newspaper – I had three daughters then. I possibly had a son-in-law coming over the horizon. Much has indeed changed in terms of the family's narrative. Our characters are older and hopefully wiser but their human nature is still the same and that's pretty much the message of the movie."
The Royal Visit
"A family like the Crawleys want to make it appear as though this is just water off a duck's back but in fact there's an awful lot of paddling going on. While upstairs everything seems calm - where it's all crystal glasses, finery and relaxed conversation - the real drama is below stairs. It's the upheaval of the staff caused by the arrival of the Royal entourage that creates the dramatic tension. The phrase 'when two tribes go to war' springs to mind. At the heart of the conflict is pride - the honour of Downton and the wider community is at stake. One of my favourite scenes in the movie sees a local tradesman positively bursting at the seams with the honour of servicing the Royal Visit."
"Bringing the world of Downton to the big screen seemed to be a no-brainer. I can remember, when we were in Washington DC publicising season six, Allen Leech (who plays Tom Branson) and I popped our heads in to the screening that was being shown to an audience of about 1,500 people. Normally, screenings are much smaller, so to hear 1,500 people really belly laughing together and moments later sharing a pin-drop silence was quite something. We both said, 'Downton could work wonderfully in the cinema'.
"We've been aware of what a huge impact the show has had on audiences around the world – particularly with families. We've had so many letters and messages saying; "It pulled us together to watch once a week", or "we binge-watched the DVD together." So we know there is an appetite for this film and I think it'll provide a great deal of pleasure for what were little groups, families, to come together as one big family and watch it in the movie theatre."
Appeal Of The Earl Of Grantham
"Lord Grantham may be the head of a substantial household and a fine aristocratic family but in essence he is just a dad who's trying to keep his family together, trying to keep those who work around him on track and the estate ticking over. I think that's probably why the show has resonated: audiences recognise the family dynamics, even though it's in a heightened environment."
Buzz For The Movie
"I'm very much aware of the buzz around the movie, fans of the show have been so loyal, so invested in the characters. It's exciting to share this next chapter with our worldwide audience."
The Look Of The Movie
"Ben Smithard, our Cinematographer, has raised the game in terms of the 'look' of the film, and our Costume Designer, Anna Robbins, has again worked her magic. The sheer beauty of the production and the detail of the work that you're going to see on the big screen, as opposed to on either your TV or your laptop or dare I say your watch, is going to be wonderful. There's a lush, truly cinematic feel to the movie that I'm sure will captivate and enchant our audience."
"The men still have to wear razor blade collars whenever they get into white tie and tails. How they could think they're going to have a nice, relaxed evening with what feels like a piece of steel down the front of their chest I don't know but it's been fun getting back into those fabrics and the suits. They look fabulous and I suppose are rather wonderful and they are beautifully, beautifully made."
Laura Carmichael Plays Lady Edith
Reprising The Role Of Lady Edith
"When the series ended we saw Edith married to Bertie. That was her big fairytale happy ending, so that's where we're picking up from really. She's living in Brancaster with Bertie who's now the Marquess of Hexham, which is super high up in the scale of lords and dukes and whatnots. They're a very well-to-do couple now and having a really lovely time.
"We do see through the film, the concerns that Edith has about her life, their responsibilities as a Marquess. When he's asked to go away with the prince on a long tour it stirs up these feelings within Edith of what she wants her life to be like and the lack of control you have when you are responsible to your community. It's an interesting time for them, for their relationship, and you see Edith feel a bit disgruntled and missing her old life at the newspaper."
"I think the thing that's been most exciting about coming back to Downton is just the cast and crew getting back together. It feels like a big reunion and in many ways it's like we've never left, but we've also had a bit of time to reflect and be apart from each other and so to come back feels like a real treat. While we were making the film it felt like we'd been having a bit of a party. We really do laugh a lot and returning to all these characters has been a joy to play and also a joy to watch. I've loved seeing them all again."
Difference Between Tv And Film
"I thought that I might feel nervous and the pressure of thinking about the big screen but actually, because it's these characters that we know so well, I'm delighted that it felt like returning to a character and family I know and love. In terms of the technical side of things, the whole feel has gone up a notch and it looks amazing. They've really thrown everything at it and it feels very cinematic.
"A part of the show was very much the style; very smooth camera work upstairs and the frantic side downstairs. That was always the style but to see how they've upped it for the cinema is really magical. The locations are stunning and the costumes are stunning, so to really have that energy of making it all perfect has been very exciting."
What Downton Means To You
"Something that I'm really proud of about the show is that it's something that you'll sit down to watch with your mum and your grandma or your kids. It's for all the family and so when I meet families that come up to you as a group, that's really special. It's not specific to age or gender, but people sit down together and watch it and I love that."
Jim Carter Plays Mr. Carson
Reprising The Role Of Mr. Carson
"At the end of the television series, Carson had retired. He'd had a problem with a shaking hand, called, I think, medically correctly, essential tremor! He'd gone into retirement as we start the film. He works in the garden to fill his time, so when the call comes to go back up to the house, he's more than delighted. Lady Mary, his favourite Crawley daughter, asks him to come back and help out because the Royals are coming to visit and the house is in a state of chaos. So, Carson comes riding to the rescue."
Why The Audience Love Downton Abbey
The reason Downton resonates with so many people is a question that we've been asked since it began. There are a million different answers. It's about romance, it's about people falling in love, wishing people would fall in love. It's not a real view of the past, it's a romanticised view of heritage England with beautiful castles and beautiful dresses, presented immaculately. It isn't cynical, it doesn't contain men with guns, it's not lots of flashing images and cars and special effects. It's just simple stories about people trying to get on and I think that's what people like about it.
Relationships Between Characters
"One of the things that people liked about Downton Abbey was that they saw the upstairs and downstairs very much working as a team in harmony. The servants were there to create a perfect life for the people upstairs, and the people upstairs, certainly in the TV series, are extremely appreciative of that, they like their servants. In the film there's a lot less interaction between upstairs and downstairs."
Difference Between Tv And Film
"The key difference between making the film and making the television series is that the film only took 9 weeks to film while the television series took six months. We had a lot more locations work overall though the below stairs cast worked mainly at Highclere Castle and Shepperton Studios."
Raquel Cassidy Plays Miss Baxter
Reprising The Role Of Miss Baxter
"When the television series came to an end Baxter was very much a member of the below stairs family and had more than a twinkle in her eye for Mr. Molesley. We find her pretty much in the same place but they are sloth like romantics."
The Royal Visit
"The film opens on what is supposed to be an ordinary day, when a letter is delivered to the house. Andy the footman can see it's from the King and Queen from the Royal seal and takes it immediately to Mr Barrow, who takes it upstairs to Lord Grantham straight away. Then all hell breaks loose because the King and Queen are coming to stay at Downton. The story revolves around everything that happens in the lead up and during their visit."
"It was incredibly moving to hear the script being read by everyone at the read-through because we all really cared about the show. Everybody came back with a real desire to do it, and it was a lot of fun."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"It's much shorter to shoot a film than a television series and that's the main difference between the two but apart from that the rest is really similar. There are more locations but we don't all go to those and the sets are fairly similar though slightly bigger to allow for more camera angles."
"I don't love Baxter's clothes but the film costumes I wore were incredibly comfortable, and being a seamstress, I know that Anna designed it with that detail in mind – Baxter would take pride in her skill and would likely have embellished her own black dresses. I do look at the dresses the upstairs women wear and yes, I would prefer to be wearing those."
If the audience loves the world of Downton, then this will be like a cream tea at the Savoy. It's going to be delicious. Everything you want, two hours of Downton on the big screen.
Brendan Coyle Plays Mr Bates
Reprising The Role Of Mr Bates
"At the end of series six, we left Bates having had a son with Anna and they were very happy after their fairly turbulent journey through the six seasons. We pick them up now in a state of relative domestic bliss, they have a beautiful son and they're in a very good place."
The Idea Of Making A Film
"The idea of doing the film was first mooted a round about mid-to-the-end of the series. I think once people realised that it was a global phenomenon, it becomes inevitable that talk of a film comes around. It then became more a question of how and when and now, here we are!"
The Royal Visit
"Central to the narrative is a Royal visit from the King and Queen of England to Downton Abbey. They bring with them their own staff including the Royal chef, the Royal valets, the Royal everything and there is a great clash between the very well-oiled machine that is Downton Abbey and this royal carnival that comes to town. There's great contention between these energies and things go wrong and things go right. There is a bit of scheming that goes on downstairs, and Bates is very subtly involved in the shenanigans that the Downton staff deploy to confound the royal household. At every level, the hierarchical structure above stairs is replicated by their staff below stairs and we're not having that!"
Two Worlds Shifting Closer
"There's still a huge gulf in class, but the modern world is changing. Socialism is in the air and the middle classes are rising.
Since the first season began, we've had the introduction of the telephone, the motorcar, we've had a world war, so we have seen these huge shifts but the structure is still there. We're not seeing the end of the aristocracy just yet so everything's still pretty solid."
"It was extraordinary to go back to Downton and I'm lucky to have been able to do it because there was a time when it didn't look like I could because of other commitments, but it worked out thankfully. There was a real sense of coming home because these people that I work with downstairs, these actors, these characters, are so very familiar and very comforting to me. To go back and work with all those people again has been a real treat.
"We've known each other for many years now and we're extremely close; they're very funny people and terrific actors. We also had these fantastic actors come in and hit the ground running, taking the story to a different place."
Scale Of The Movie
"It feels like everything just got a little bit bigger and grander and there was more time being spent in every department. We had conversations with Donal Woods, Anna Robbins and several other production creatives and they talked about the creative vision of realising this on the big screen and how everything just notched up a gear.
"Downton Abbey, the television series, always had a sort of cinematic scope and I think that was part of what contributed greatly to its success. I think the house was always a character in itself along with the creative vision and the attention to detail. One of the key differences between the series and film is that you naturally take much more time over each scene in a film. Where we would shoot five or six pages a day on the television series we shot two or three pages a day on the movie. The demands of television mean you work much quicker."
Global Success Of Downton
"I've told this story before but I will tell it again. I was in Marrakesh and it was after the first season and people of all different nationalities were approaching me. Twitter was just starting up and I was getting tweets from people in some outpost in Alaska and from New Zealand and I thought, 'jeez, this is quite something'. On either side of the globe, you're getting these people connecting with you and connecting with the show. It was different from being in something when your family have seen it and you walk down the street and maybe a few people have seen it. That's what we thought it was going to be, a solid Sunday night TV show. It had a great script, Maggie Smith, all that, but there was just these little incidents where it started to pop in a global way and then it just went bananas."
"I think fans can expect a sense of familiarity in terms of what they love about the show, a sense of nostalgia, the characters that they became connected to and have affection for. They're all there but it's just on a bigger, grander scale. It's also the level of skill in terms of our crew and cast and our heads of department that is extraordinary, I think it'll be very special and I can't wait to see it."
Michelle Dockery Plays Lady Mary
Reprising The Role Of Lady Mary
"I play Lady Mary Talbot. At the end of the last series, after going through quite a difficult time and being quite unhappy and angry at the world, Mary finally found happiness with Henry Talbot. We left her in a very good place, moving on with her life and very much embracing her position within the house in partnership with Tom as Estate Manager. She's sort of in a place where she's very unsure of where everything is going with Downton. Of course the news that the King and Queen are coming to visit throws everything into turmoil so she's quite stressed with all of the organising and really takes it upon herself to take charge. It's quite funny seeing that dynamic going on with the above and below stairs. They're still trying to keep the swan-like grace upstairs while the feet are paddling away underneath. She's really involved below stairs in the film, which is really nice, so there's a lot of her and Anna trying to organise everything. She's very hands-on, which is always really interesting for me because Mary when we were first introduced to her in the first season was this almost reluctant young girl who didn't really want all of this and was quite rebellious and it's so interesting to see her fifteen years on, in the film, that she's really at the helm and embracing this position that she's born into. As we know, Mary is fiercely independent and I think the audience likes seeing her doing things for herself and she's never really relied on a man to fix things for her. It makes her very modern for this period."
"The most amazing thing was being with everyone and coming back together again as this big family that we've become and it didn't really feel like work for me. It's so good to come into something where you don't have the same preparation as you would for a new job. You're going into something usually that's brand new- new cast, new crew, and you have all of nerves beforehand, and it's quite rare to be going into something where you feel so at ease and especially with the character that you've played for six years. It's like you can do it standing on your head. So it was a lot of fun and really lovely for us to reminisce about the show. We are three years on now so it gave us a good amount of breathing space in between wrapping on the series and starting the film. I feel like the timing was perfect and we've enjoyed every minute."
"For the Crawley family and the household staff, the royal visit is a huge deal. They themselves live in this beautiful home, which for many would feel it's like a royal household. There's this brilliant line from Princess Mary, played by Kate Phillips, where she says, "Just don't paint anything. They're sick of the smell of the paint," and that is what people would do if a member of the Royal family were to visit. They would redecorate their homes and it was so important that every detail would be perfect. Mary really feels that pressure. I love that she notices in Barrow straight away that he is like a rabbit in the headlights and can't quite handle this huge thing that's about to happen and so she, of course, goes to her beloved Carson and asks him to come back for the visit, and I think that's such a lovely moment in the film."
"My first costume fitting for the film was quite emotional. I didn't expect to feel the way that I did. It's literally like stepping back into her shoes. The costumes are just incredible on the film. I never thought that Anna – our amazingly talented costume designer – could surpass herself, because the last season's costumes were extraordinary but she's just cranked it up another notch for the film and everybody looks incredible.
"We're in 1927 so Anna (Robbins) has brought a hint of the thirties into the costumes. The dresses for the women are longer, so it's more floor length gowns for the ball, which for ages we've been seeing shorter dresses in the twenties. There's a lot of jewellery, which has been fun. At one point I think I was wearing four necklaces, which seemed extravagant but it's a film so why not?"
Differences Between Tv And Film
"What has certainly felt different is having more time to really get it right. On the television series we would shoot up to five scenes a day, so it was a real luxury to be able to do extra takes. It certainly feels on a much bigger, grander scale. Cinematically I think it's going to look really beautiful and Ben Smithard, our director of photography, is so talented. "
Kevin Doyle Plays Mr Molesley
Reprising The Role Of Mr Molesley
"Not much time has lapsed since the TV series finished. Life hasn't changed much for anyone but Molesley is enjoying his career as a teacher. He's not part of the household anymore. He's very happily ensconced at the local school and that's a nod back to the beginning of the first series when he wasn't yet part of the household. He's very happy with his lot now.
"Mr Molesley has become a much more rounded character over the years and we've all gotten to know a lot more about him. He definitely adds more of a comedic element to the show than he used to. He used to be quite a serious man and I've enjoyed seeing the different aspects of him evolve over the years. What I've always liked about him was that he always had a sense of somebody who knows that life's opportunities have passed him by. He's of an age where he's not expecting anything new to happen in his life and I imagine the horizon is fairly predictable. To see the possibility of new things happening to him and of new options opening up for him in the last few years of the show was lovely to play.
"I can see that there must have been generations of people who were naturally gifted, but weren't able to use it because of their place in the world at that time. At the end of the TV series we saw people awakening to the idea of new possibilities and various characters trying their hand at other things."
The Royal Visit
"Molesley is very excited to learn from Mr. Bakewell, the local grocer, that a Royal visit could be on the cards. I hadn't realised that Mr. Molesley is a fanatical royalist and the idea of seeing the King and Queen in person fills him with such joy that he almost begs to be brought back onto the staff for a one-off contribution to the house. You've got to remember that in 1927, very few people would've clapped eyes on the King and Queen. Only those who lived in London and even then only if you happened to be out and about when they were. There was no television then and you might only have heard their voices on the radio, so the idea of seeing them in person must have been intoxicating for a royalist. That's hopefully what I bring to the beginning of the film, the idea that it's such a thrilling notion.
"Molesley gets so excited at the idea of being able to wait upon his King and Queen that when the Royal household threatens to move in and take over all of Downton's duties he sees the chance slipping away from him and so he throws himself wholeheartedly into the rebellious plan being hatched by the Downton servants. He gets a little bit carried away in his enthusiasm for his beloved Royals. There are two key moments for Molesley that for me as an actor were slightly scary because although they were not big moments they were crucial to the story. I knew I had to get them right. It was terrifying having to do that in front of the great and good of British theatre and TV who were all in the room. So, that was quite hard."
"The great thing about coming back together is about the people we spent so much time with for so long and not just the cast, a lot of the crew returned as well. It's always been about the people really. When you're together for as long as we've been together, you become quite close and you bond over that period of time. It was lovely seeing everybody at the readthrough and on set although seeing all the below stairs cast in their uniforms again was strange."
"I don't think anybody expected the scale of the reaction to the TV show. We all knew it would be good because we'd read the scripts and knew who was in it. You know you are onto a winner when you have the likes of Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter and Hugh Bonneville on the cast list but, there was never any sense throughout the filming of the first series that it was going to be anything other than a really rock solid British TV period drama. It was only when we started to film the second series that we started to feel the echoes of something from over the water in the US that we thought, 'Oh, so other countries are taking interest now', which was lovely. Then it all went a bit mad from there on and we were invited all over the world. I mean we British actors were not used to that level of acclaim. I can't think of many British dramas that have been this successful.
"I remember very specifically, we went to the Screen Actors Guild Awards one year in Los Angeles and I got very excited when I saw the cast of 'Breaking Bad'. Then I was confused and bewildered to see that some of them were quite excited to see
Why Downton Resonates
"I think it's a mixture of the fascination with that period in time and those locked in tracks that people have to walk along. The obligations that somebody like Lady Edith, for instance, who was expected to live a very particular kind of life, and what was wonderful was seeing her breaking out of that and going off and having a career, which was almost unheard of. I think it's the fascination with those wonderfully drawn characters that were evident on the page from day one."
Michael Fox Plays Andy
Reprising The Role Of Andy
"I play Andy, a footman who joined the household when the family went to London for a week. Fortunately they asked Andy to come back to Downton, which meant that I could work again on the show. Andy fell in love with Daisy, and when we join them further on in their relationship they're talking about a wedding. In the film we see Andy frustrated and keen to get on with the wedding plans but Daisy's a little lukewarm about it.
"Andy's quite a respectful, quiet character, but he gets quite jealous when a new good-looking plumber comes to fix the boiler and Daisy's eyes slightly sway across. His jealous, angry side comes out which has been quite exciting to play."
"The movie was huge for me because I joined at the end of the fifth season and I only had the Christmas special and the sixth season under my belt. I was just kind of feeling like I was getting my feet under the table when it ended. So I had a very different feeling to the rest of cast who maybe wanted to take a step back from it and then come back to it afresh.
"When there was talk about the film coming it was really exciting and I approached it in a different way, just kind of appreciating it. We were filming for such a small period of time and even the time we spent at Highclere seemed so brief, I wanted to feel every scene, every moment, and cherish it a bit more this time around. It was really great."
The Royal Visit
"There are lots of different plot lines with the King and Queen coming to the house. The story revolves around their visit but it means different things to different characters. We had an amazing day with around 85 horses and riders in a huge parade with cannons and carriages and that took the best part of a day to shoot. I'm looking forward to seeing that on screen. It's going to be amazing and will really demonstrate the difference between a TV show and a film. For Andy serving the King and Queen is the highest accolade he could possibly have as a footman."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"Inevitably with any film the shots are more considered and there's more depth in them and that's because you have more time to spend on each scene. Michael [Engler], Ben Smithard and the camera team worked to get a lot of the scenes in one fluid motion because then you get more a sense of the world. It feels voyeuristic in a way. It's always the way with television that you have to work at a greater speed in order to turn it around for broadcasters. The film gives the audience a bit more space with the world, a bit more space to get into and feel the atmosphere and live it more."
What Does The Success Of Downton Mean To You
"It seemed that one week we were making an ITV Sunday night drama, the next minute you're making some massive internationally loved juggernaut. When Downton Abbey started on PBS in the States it felt like a really significant moment, and how well liked it seemed to be in the States so quickly. I don't think anyone expected American audiences to respond in the way they did. You could not have predicted that. I can't imagine what that must have been like for the guys in the cast that suddenly went from a UK TV drama to global phenomenon. It's pretty incredible to be part of that."
Joanne Froggatt Plays Anna Bates
Reprising The Role Of Anna Bates
"Anna and Bates are in a really good place, Anna's very happy. They've got past their traumas, of which there were many during the series, which made for great drama for me to play as an actress. They've got their cottage, their little boy, Johnnie who is thriving and they're very happy in work, in life, in love. Anna has really come into her own. It feels like she's in control of her life and is taking charge of all the situations that come up within Downton and within the house. She's a brilliant support to Lady Mary, as always, and their friendship has grown deeper. Anna is almost mirroring downstairs, what Mary is doing upstairs. Mary has taken on the role of protector of Downton and the person that's going to move it forward and Anna is her sidekick in that. Anna is her ally in a way.
"Anna is relatable to people because she's a good person. She's kind, and strong-minded and has a strong set of morals. The love story with her and Mr. Bates really connected with people. That slow burn love story against all the odds, where everything was thrown at them and they overcame it all. I love that people connected with her in the way they did. It was lovely for me to go back to her for the movie."
"It's fantastic that it is going to be on the big screen but as soon as I put Anna's costume back on, her little shoes, I felt like I was back. It was just normal and didn't feel different to the series at all. You just fall into the same characters really easily. The first day was very surreal and exciting. Laura, Michelle, and I were doing scenes together in Lady Mary's bedroom, and we were like three giddy schoolgirls. We just couldn't believe that we were back. It was so surreal and weird. We have all had the most fun doing it. I just hope we do the audience proud and people enjoy it."
"It was so lovely to have been a part of something that's been so popular and that people have got so much joy from. The fact that there's been so much goodwill for us to make the movie and everyone's been asking us about it for years was so gratifying. There's already been so much excitement and the reaction when we announced that we were starting filming was just so positive and so lovely. That really has been the nicest thing."
What Does The Success Of Downton Mean To You
"I'd been working as an actress for about twelve years before we started the first series and Downton certainly changed my life. In hindsight it's easier to see that now than when it's actually happening. It changed all of our lives. Starting the movie and looking back to the very beginning, I just can't believe it was nine years ago because in some ways it feels like yesterday. In other ways you feel like a slightly different person that started filming that at the age of 29, to the person I am now. It is wonderful to be able to look back and have the opportunity to be nostalgic about a job – because in my industry it doesn't usually happen. You shoot something and move on to the next thing and you move on again. To be able to revisit this, personally and professionally, is a real treat."
Matthew Goode Plays Henry Talbot
Reprising The Role Of Henry Talbot
"When we see Henry in the film he has just come back from working in America to be present at the Royal ball. I think he is quite a modern character who doesn't come from the aristocracy but from a pretty good family. Certainly in ten or fifteen years, I think he will have relaxed the code of how they live a little bit. He's quite a kind person who loves his wife and kids, and we get the sense that he wants to spend more time with the children, which is not necessarily something that men did back then. It was quite a modern thing to look after your own children rather than bumping them off to the nanny.
"He's also a racing driver, which is a pretty modern career/hobby. I don't know if we can all relate to being a racing driver but we've certainly all had that moment where you put your foot down and think 'I quite like this modern technology'."
"It was so nice to see everybody again and it was just a joy to come back. It's always feverish when all the cast come together; there's an awful lot of laughing. I came into the show very late so I feel like I've always been a bit of an imposter but luckily I knew a couple of people which always helps."
"This is the first time in my career that I've had to wear stockings and, do you know something, it's alright. My girls go to school and they have to wear those most of the time so, yeah, it's fine. It's not the most comfortable but it's okay. No complaints. I wore some beautiful three-piece suits and because I'm in a car I wore a lot of dust jackets.
What The Success Of Downton Means To You
"It's the culmination of hundreds of people's hard tireless work over the years and that's really great. You could call the cast the 'upstairs' and then the crew the 'downstairs' because the crew do so much and no one really knows about them, they're hidden away. I think it sort of puts a cherry on the cake for what has been the most successful TV drama in recent times. I hope the fans all enjoy it."
Harry Hadden-Paton Plays Bertie Hexham
Reprising The Role Of Bertie Hexham
"Bertie is quite soft, and quite an emotional man. He's different to the other men of that time. I think he is great for Edith. Julian put it that there are losers in life, who no matter what they do, are always down, and never get a break. I think both Bertie and Edith qualified in that category until they found each other. I think he had quite a tough time and had reached a stage where he's just looking for a partner and love and honesty.
"Honesty is what drives him, so when he found out about the secret of Marigold that was the big conflict for him and he was really torn. Ultimately, he's level headed, and loves her. It's a very open, honest love, and there's not much more to him than that. Bertie is now living this life as the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. He's looking after staff and an estate with God knows how many people living and working so he's providing for a large chunk of England's livelihood."
"It's quite surreal in a way because nothing's changed. What's great about joining a show that you've done before is that, logistically I imagine it's a nightmare, but other than that, you're not really negotiating character, you know what it is, you've done it before, you know what the relationships are, and you just walk into it. That was what was great about making the film. It's a lovely reunion to see everyone. It's very rare that you get everyone in the same room again after a successful show wraps."
Difference Between Tv And Film
"We're seeing the characters in a situation we haven't seen them in before, and the stakes are higher than previously because you have the King and Queen visiting, and they don't get any higher than that. I guess when you're making a film, you need to create huge set pieces and use the size of the screen to your advantage. On our big parade day I read the call sheet and it had all the cast plus twenty footmen, two hundred and fifty extras and then eighty horses. They could probably have CGI'd that but I think it makes a huge difference on the big screen, to have that size and that scale in vision."
Robert James-Collier Plays Thomas Barrow
Reprising The Role Of Thomas Barrow
"Barrow is now the butler at Downton Abbey. He started off as a valet, and he's gone all the way up to butler. He's always been seen as the bad boy of Downton Abbey but I think he's just misunderstood.
"When we return in the film, the Royal family are coming to visit, and for Thomas, this is his big moment. He's worked his way up to the position of butler, to get to this big moment; this is the pinnacle of his career and he can show off in front of the Royal family. Then out of nowhere, Lady Mary usurps him and starts to doubt whether he's got the ability to be a butler to the Royal family, pulling the rug from under his feet. The film contains all these little separate vignettes, where he goes off on his own journey. I do think because of his sexuality Thomas' story takes him on these different trajectories and it's important to have this angle because it was illegal to be gay back then and we don't often see that side of society in 1920s Britain."
"We were a good solid family unit, particularly the downstairs crew. We always had such a great laugh and to meet up with everyone again was just fantastic. It's like that old friend you went to university with and you don't speak to for three years, then you pick up the phone, and it's not stilted, it's not awkward, everything's just exactly how you left it, which in our case was just manic, and really loud. It was great, for me, just to see the cast again, it was like a school reunion."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"The main difference between TV and film is that you have way more time to shoot the scenes which means the crew have more time to show you what they're capable of. Sometimes in TV, it can be rushed and you get these brilliantly talented people who haven't got the time to show you how good they can be, and I think on the film, we've got that. We can let each department shine and have a bit more of a moment, which is great. It's just generally a little bit more relaxed. Not like it was ever not relaxed but we had a lot more time in the schedule to really make this as good as it could be."
Why Downton Resonates With Audiences
"I've toured with Downton to South Africa, Japan, Australia and America, and a movie just seemed a natural step, because Downton Abbey represents a stable, safe way of life, as it was back then. I think that's what people sort of were tuning into with the show. It's a form of escapism with these grand houses with their huge, grand ballroom scenes and these fantastic costumes. People just want to take a nostalgic step back in time.
"To give the fans a movie which is much more lavish and extravagant than they've come to expect, will I hope make our audience happy. We're just giving them what they want and what they like. We're not doing anything particularly new, but I don't think you have to. If the show hadn't been picked up in the States, would it have become the global phenomenon it is? I don't know that it would."
Allen Leech Plays Tom Branson
Reprising The Role Of Tom Branson
"When the show ended, Tom Branson had very much made his decision to be part of the family, and when the movie picks up, that's exactly where you find him. He's doing his job within the estate, and he has his car garage with Henry Talbot. Through the story there are moments where Tom Branson shows his loyalty, certainly to the family more than anyone else. Tom has always had that streak within him of the Irish rebel, the republican, and in the movie, he has an opportunity to save someone's life. At the time, everyone questions his motives but you will have to wait and see how that turns out. It was due to Sybil that he suddenly found himself in this landscape and in this world. He's always been someone who's been slightly baffled by the aristocracy and their ways."
"The most exciting thing about coming back to Downton to film the movie was getting to be back around these incredible people, these actors and our crew with a story that we felt bookended this incredible journey we've all been on. I couldn't really pick one singular thing that made it special to be back, but I think the most exciting thing was coming back and having the opportunity to have one more go at it with everyone."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"I think there's a great sense of responsibility that we all felt, and it started with the script. I suppose there was always a slight concern that you're taking a much loved programme from the small screen that's in people's homes, to suddenly asking that same audience, who have been so loyal and loving towards the show, to go to the cinemas. The story has to be big enough, and when we got the script that was the first thing I think we all felt. There was enough of an epic storyline to bring people into the cinemas, but also they still got satisfaction from the twenty characters that they love."
"It's always lovely when you get into a costume that you've worn before. There's a sense of comfort, especially something that you've done for so long, I've never worked on any show for as long as I did Downton. And there is a sense of coming home into a costume, into a time period, and to a character that you know and love so much, and feel so akin to."
What Does The Success Of Downton Mean To You
"I'm always amazed at how people who stop me in the street or anywhere around the world come up and go, 'We love that show, we wish we could have more.' So when it finally got announced, I was absolutely bowled over by the excitement that the audience had when they found out we're going to come back. That's always very heart-warming, and it's something that over the years, really resonated, the fact that this still holds such a special place in people's hearts. It's really lovely to be able to bring this back.
"I think it's just been such a surprise for all of us, how well it did. Not because we didn't feel we were making a good show, but just how it's resonated, not only in the UK or even in Europe, but also in the States, and all around the world. It's a show that people seem to be able to engage with no matter where they're from, or what their background is. That's really been surprising to me. I never thought, a British period drama, would be so welcomed and enjoyed all around the world.
Phyllis Logan Plays Mrs Hughes
Reprising The Role Of Mrs Hughes
"When we begin the film things are nice and gentle with herself and Carson, who as we know has taken retirement. She's being the supportive wife and he's turned into a happy gardener, growing his own vegetables and tending to his flowers. When Lord Grantham receives the letter to advise of the imminent arrival of the King and Queen, that sets the cat amongst the pigeons. Everybody's in a tail spin about it including Mrs Hughes to an extent, and she's not one to get into a tail spin normally so there is a lot of pressure on her."
"It was so exciting getting all the gang back together again. It was such fun. I mean, it's only been three years, but we've all done so much in that time which makes it seem longer actually. To be reunited and having lovely meals together at the hotel whenever we could, catching up on life and what we've been doing was great. It really is a family."
"I try to look back and reflect upon the previous series', because we started it in 2010, but one's memory is not as good as it used to be! I've got lots of lovely, happy memories. I loved the end of season six when we were all singing 'Auld Lang Syne' which, being Scottish was very moving for me.
"I used to love all the set pieces that we'd do, like at the end of season one when the war was announced, and we had a big summer fair going on in front of the house, with lots of lovely developing shots where one person would be carrying a tray and then another little conversation would happen over there. It was such a glorious day, being with the whole cast. We also have some huge set pieces in the film also, where we're all together again. I loved those days, they are magnificent."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"The key difference was the length of time we spent shooting scenes in the film which were a lot lengthier than in the series and you could have time to really spend getting it right. The other thing that was different is that when the sets were reassembled the kitchen, hall and servants dining area were all a little bigger to allow for the cameras to move around each character and to allow for more complicated camera angles and shots."
Why Downton Was Such A Success
"It's so difficult to know why Downton was a success. It's a question we've been asked many times before and if any of us could put a finger on it, we'd all be millionaires. It's the coming together of all sorts of elements from the characters, the wit and humour along with the pathos and pain to the beauty of the house and a nod back to nostalgic times. Add to that the emotion and real heart of it. To use an analogy, you have all these wonderful ingredients to make the perfect cake and the masterchef, Julian Fellowes, mixed it up, put it in the oven, and here it is, the most beautiful Victoria sponge!"
Elizabeth Mcgovern Plays Cora Crawley
Differences Between Tv And Film
"It feels as though the ambition of the movie is to take a nostalgic look at all these characters that the fans have grown to love over the years, and to give them what we think they'll enjoy. I think that's basically what we're trying to do in the movie."
"We had a lot more time in the day to shoot scenes so that was a luxury. There was more time to light the scenes resulting in beautiful shots."
"The most singular thing about coming back to make the film is that it was so easy to slide right back into our relationships with an element of more fun and enjoyment. There was a feeling that we were all enjoying the opportunity to get together again and talk about the memories and replay the same roles that we played for so long over the years. I still get a thrill driving up the driveway to Highclere and experience once again that view and the way the house is situated. It's this canvas of ever-changing colours, because as the seasons progress, you just never look at the same vista twice; it never ceases to amaze me."
"Downton Abbey was always the type of show that brought in new characters with every new storyline and series. That naturally brings in fresh blood, which in our case was a lot of fun. Much to my excitement we had some fantastic actors join us for the movie like Imelda Staunton, David Haig and Geraldine James and that's been so much fun."
Hair And Costumes
"Cora is not quite as of-the-moment as her daughters. She doesn't have the bob hair cut that they have and the one that's the most advanced, is possibly Edith. She really adopted a modern way of looking and is almost in the 1930s, in terms of her hairstyle. Mary looks quite edgy and forward thinking and Cora's somewhere in the middle. She's still got a kind of classic upsweep in the hair and hasn't cut her hair short but her first line is "…if I know anything about royal visits we'll never stop changing our clothes," and she does not let her audience down. She's always in a different dress. Anna Robbins, the costume designer, just never let me down. Every single dress just seemed to be better than the last one. They were all amazing."
What Does The Success Of Downton Mean To You
"The thing I've enjoyed the most about the success of the series is that it gave me the opportunity to be able to instigate projects for myself that I wouldn't have had before. One of which was a book I found that I developed with Julian Fellowes as the screenwriter and we actually got the film financed and made.
Sophie McShera Plays Daisy
Reprising The Part Of Daisy
"We find Daisy in the film exactly where we'd expect to find her; in the kitchen with Mrs Patmore. She lives on the farm and is together with Andy (the footman) whom she is engaged to. In the film, Daisy is on almost the same journey as she always has been since the first season. She's making discoveries about how she feels about the world, and how she feels about the house and the people in it, which she kind of seems to be always doing, and I love that about her."
"I think the most exciting thing about coming back to Downton is just reuniting with everyone. It sounds so obvious and I imagine everyone will say this, but it's been like a school reunion or something. It's been so much fun."
The Royal Visit
"I imagine a Royal visit puts a lot of pressure on upstairs as well as downstairs. From the downstairs point of view, it seems like a lot because they've got all the work to do. For Daisy, she is a bit baffled as to why everyone is so excited but, she's probably secretly quite excited too. In terms of the kitchen, it's a lot of work, having such fantastic guests."
Difference Between Tv And Film
"I think for us bringing Downton to the big screen feels so exciting because it just makes everything bigger. We've worked on these beautiful sets for years, and it just feels like we're getting all that and more with the film. We've visited some really gorgeous locations and the costumes are amazing.
"It just feels bigger. With making the film it feels slightly different in that we have a bit more time to get our scenes right which as an actor is rewarding. On the televison show we'd shoot many more pages in a day than we did on the film which for us actors really takes the pressure off and allows us to concentrate on the work."
What The Success Of Downton Means To You
"We are so grateful to PBS for what it's given Downton because we just couldn't believe that people were watching it in America and that our fans there were just so obsessed with the show. Our American fans would have Downton parties and whenever we went to America, people would travel from all over the country to meet us. It was so exciting for us"
Lesley Nicol Plays Mrs Patmore
Reprising The Role Of Mrs Patmore
"At the end of the TV series Mrs Patmore had her B&B business on the side and there was a little chemistry between her and Mr Mason. In the film, she becomes part of the group below stairs rebellion to thwart a threat that comes their way via the Royal visit.
"Julian gave everybody a journey and what's become very obvious in the film is her relationship with Daisy, which has come a very long way. In the film it's almost like a mother daughter relationship where Mrs Patmore has aged and Daisy has become stronger and is more protective of Mrs Patmore. It's a complete reversal and it's very realistic because that is what happens; it's kind of sweet really."
"People have been asking us for the last three years, on a regular basis if there was going to be a movie. What is funny is I didn't have to button my lip at all because I didn't know. We found ourselves saying, 'Honestly, actors are the last to know,' because we are. There's a lot that has to happen before we get our hands on it, so there wasn't a secret to be kept until at the very last minute when we knew it had been green-lit.
"It was very special to come back. It really is a very special experience for everybody. At the beginning of a show you have no idea what you're getting into and we certainly didn't think it was going to be six years. I think we thought, one, maybe two if we're lucky. It was my very good fortune to have Sophie McShera, to play with. The minute I met her, we got on. So, that makes coming to work great. I adore her and we have such a laugh and I respect her hugely as an actress. If the people around you are nice and good at their job you're more than halfway there. If they're not that, that can ruin everything. So, we've always had that and to come back and be in that environment again, with that energy and positivity, it's just lovely.
"Seeing everybody has been absolutely lovely and the weird thing is, it does feel like yesterday that we were last together. Getting back into the character was easy and I think everybody felt the same. It's part of our DNA now really. So, it's just lovely, it's like putting on something very comfortable."
The Royal Visit
"The King and Queen come to visit Downton, which is a big deal and everyone's really excited. Mrs Patmore is beside herself because she thinks she's going to be able to do a royal luncheon, a parade, and an evening dinner and that's a big thing, she's very excited. When she gets told that she's surplus to requirements it is devastating. The servants are being usurped, even Mrs Hughes is being replaced by the Royal staff.
They're all slightly flummoxed about this, so they cook up a little plan to derail that situation - it's very good!"v Global Phenomenon
"I remember Hugh and Elizabeth went to America and came back, saying, "Guys, you're not going to believe what's going on over there. It's insane. People are enthusiastic beyond your wildest dreams." They had been to The White House and met the Obamas who were also fans and seen Hillary Clinton across a crowded room; she elbowed people out of the waywho ran through a crowded room so she could to speak to them. Those sort of things kept happening. Then we found out that the Clintons watched the show as a family, on a Sunday night together and we thought 'isn't this just mad?' I heard Anthony Hopkins was a fan, that was a bit of a thrill.
"We often get asked why Downton was such a global phenomenon and I'd love to give you a clever witty answer. Julian's answer is always, "If I knew the answer to that, I would write a string of Downton Abbeys!" The stories are great, Julian never wrote a bad script. I think it also might be something to do with the fact that it was a strong ensemble of actors who fit their characters very well and who all get on really well, I think that brings a sense of unity to it. All the departments are at the top of their game, Donal Woods, one of the best designers there is. The Art Department, the Make-Up, Wardrobe, they're all top people. All of it was well looked after from the very beginning and maybe a combination of all of that makes it special."
Scale Of The Movie
"One thing is the set's slightly bigger, there's a little bit more space, It's maybe only a few inches, but you can feel it's just slightly different. In the film there are some big visual set pieces that you'd never have been able to do in the TV show, and they will look wonderful on a big screen, that's for sure. I'm very taken by the lighting, actually, when you look on the monitor, it's breathtakingly beautiful. And it has a great kind of intensity on the screen, you know, that's going to be great. I can't wait to see it actually.
Penelope Wilton Plays Isobel Merton
Reprising The Role Of Isobel Merton
"When I started playing Isobel at the beginning of Downton she was the widow of Lord Grantham's cousin and her son Matthew stood to inherit the Downton estate when Lord Grantham died. Sadly however Matthew died in a tragic road accident so Isobel is grandmother to the next male heir of Downton. She also met and married Lord Merton so she is now Lady Merton.
"Isobel is the one who always asks the awkward questions. She sometimes bites off more than she can chew, and she's brought up by Violet rather quick. At the end of the last season, Isobel and Violet were celebrating at the wedding of Edith, who had just got married to Bertie. It was a happy ending at the end of the last series, and here we are a short time later."
"I was absolutely delighted when I received the script as the film had been talked about for a while. I don't think any of us really thought we'd be able to pull it off because there are so many of us. To get everyone together at the same time was quite a feat but three years down the line, we managed it."
"My costumes are wonderful. We're blessed with the most wonderful costume designer, Anna Robbins, and her team, and everything is authentic. If you look at the men's costumes and the detail, quite apart from the women's costumes, you realise how very chic people were in the 1920s. Anna is just wonderful to work with.
Difference Between Tv And Film
"We had a lot more people who joined the cast for the film because the story required it. We had a great deal more time in which to actually make the movie because television, by its very nature, meant time was limited and we had to work very quickly and that is always difficult for everybody. Making the film was much easier in that respect. It's also more exacting because it's going to be for a much bigger screen.
"Another difference is that we had much bigger set pieces than we did in the television series. Julian has kept its storyline, as far as the characters are concerned, and Downton is still Downton, because this house is like another character really."
Stephen Campbell-Moore Plays Major Chetwode
"Major Chetwode is a mysterious character at the beginning. He's not part of the Downton Abbey family, we don't know who he is. When he arrives in the village he is curious as to Branson's political allegiances, whether he is a true patriot and whether he supports the King and Queen. Branson's response to this stranger is that he supports his father-in-law, and that that's his position, which is ambiguous enough for Chetwode to keep snapping at his heels through the first part of the film."
What Makes Downton Abbey A Success
"Looking at the past, when you live in a very confused and tangled present, things often seem simpler. The way Julian writes also shows there is a tension in people's position in society, but, whatever those tensions are, the positions are clear. There's something quite calming for an audience to see those things. That they may be thoroughly egalitarian in every way, shape, and form, there's still something about the pleasure and enjoyment of people occupying the same space, coming from completely different places and all working in the same geographical area. It is pleasing on a sort of artistic, aesthetic level, and at the same time, we can say, we don't want life to be like that anymore."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"For me it's an unusual yet wonderful film. When I went to the readthrough, it read brilliantly because it had that multi-faceted bringing together of lots of different characters. There is no one key protagonist. It's often a pleasure to see an expansive film unfold through lots of characters' eyes, and it's a rare thing because we tend to focus towards one point of view, one character, one hero. It brings together the advantages of a multi-protagonist TV series with the expansion of a film and does it very, very well."
David Haig Plays Mr Wilson
"I play the Royal butler who has a superior attitude and angle on the resident staff at Downton Abbey when the Royal family visit. He thinks of himself as the King's Page of the Backstairs, not a butler.
"I've always wanted to play – and still hope to play– Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Although this is a concise part, there are elements of Malvolio in Mr Wilson, in his self-assertion, his pomposity, his arrogance, and his assumption that he will always win the day.."
Joining The Cast
"I loved working on Downton Abbey. I woke up on my first morning with huge anticipation. This is one of the most successful, iconic programmes that this country has ever produced. Beautifully written and observed by Julian Fellowes, and to actually, at last, after six seasons, be able to be part of it was incredibly fulfilling. It was extraordinary to be in the house, which has become a sort of iconic, mythical building. The cast were all so welcoming."
Enduring Success Of Downton
"Downton Abbey is an enduring success because it covers universally such a huge range of personalities and relationships. Above all, the status of whether you have a lot of money or you don't, you still matter in this world. Ultimately, this is a very broad, big cast of hugely widely-ranging characters. The contrast between the upstairs world and the downstairs world is irresistible.
What Can Audiences Expect
"Audiences can expect a subtly different slant on a story that they already know well. Not only is it a bigger entity as a film, the story is bigger than any individual episode so far. The people involved are of higher status and so there's more at stake."
Geraldine James Plays Queen Mary
Joining The Cast
"When I got the call, I said yes immediately. It was as quick as that. It's very thrilling to be part of something that's so unbelievably popular, it's just extraordinary. That popularity seems to be pretty universal, pretty much across the world, and across all types of people, and age groups. It's really very nice to be part of that. I think people were sad that it had finished and I know how excited people were to know there was going to be a movie. It's not much later than the last series, but it does tie up a few loose ends, which is satisfying. It is such an incredible bunch of brilliantly talented people and I've known quite a few of them for a while. Sitting around the dining room table at Highclere next to the rest of the cast, I had to pinch myself. It wasn't intimidating, because I know they're great actors, and fantastic people. They couldn't have been more friendly and welcoming. That was one of the most amazing things of the whole experience, was seeing how they love each other, and how they are so thrilled to be doing this movie. They were so sweet and respectful."
"The first day I arrived at Highclere Castle I felt a sort of childish thrill coming up the road, through the park, and then suddenly seeing these hallowed towers and thinking, 'Its Downton Abbey,' and it was just as thrilling for me as it is for anybody who sees it."
"I play Queen Mary, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, wife of George V, and grandmother of our present Queen. Of course I did all the research to find out everything I could about her. She was a great favourite of Queen Victoria's, but she was also very much under Victoria's command. She was a remarkable woman. It's been fascinating getting to know her, and feeling my way into playing a queen. I've played a couple of princesses in my time, but I've never played a queen, and it is quite extraordinary, because they are different from everybody else. To experience that grandeur of how people will always bow and scrape and be polite was absolutely fascinating to play, and quite good fun. In the movie, King George and Queen Mary are going to visit their daughter at Harewood House, as she's married to Lord Lascelles, the son of the house. They decide to stop off at Downton Abbey on the way up, and that throws everybody at Downton into a little bit of a turmoil, as you can imagine, with the King and Queen coming to stay. That's basically the story that the film revolves around."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"Story-wise, it's given them an opportunity to round off all the different relationships that have been going on. We get to see all our favourite characters again, and added to that is an element of new faces coming in. I think the great thing about evolving into a movie is that there's more time to focus on whatever part of the story is being told and time to make it look even more incredible. You can luxuriate and dwell in it, and be more invested, which is great. "
The Royal Visit
"Alastair Bruce, the Historical Advisor is the protocol expert on all things royal and he was on set watching every single moment of every single shot including details like the way you hold your knife and fork, where you put them between mouthfuls and where you place your hands. As Queen Mary I play a very specific role, and there were all sorts of things involved in that to consider as well, but just generally, the way people walk and the way they hold themselves. I'm a very quick, energetic person, and I had to really rein myself in and walk very slowly, very straight, and all sorts of tricky things like that. To have somebody there, watching every single shot to correct you if you did something inaccurate or not quite in keeping with royal protocol was so helpful and quite freeing."
"Queen Mary was very particular in the way she looked, and because she's a real person, we emulated that as much as possible. It's always quite good fun to transform into a very different person, especially in a different time period, so the costumes were out of this world.
"There were certain elements of padding involved in my costume, which is always quite good fun. I wanted to steal my fake bosom. The costume and hair and make-up teams worked with photographs to recreate tiaras and Queen Mary's very particular shape. They were some of the most wonderful costumes I've ever seen, so the joy was sort of manifold, and constant. Anna Robbins, the Costume Designer, is fantastic, and John Bright at Cosprop, who made all my costumes, knows me very well. I think costume does half my work for me. In this instance it did about 95% of my work, actually. The wig did the other five. The accuracy, historically, is absolutely fantastic. There's a big ball scene, and you just walk into this room and the costumes, the choices of colours, were all so perfect which is so helpful as actors."
Why Do Audiences Love Downton
"I think Downton deals with almost every aspect of humanity. So we have wonderful female characters, but also wonderful male characters as well. There are people upstairs, who are just as interesting as the people below stairs. I think there's something for everyone, and it's all very truthfully done. The relationships feel very contemporary, it's not antiquated, and you're not looking through a dark glass at the past; the past is brought right up to us, and we can experience it. That's a tough thing to do with period drama. We so often see things in other programmes such as people talking in a slightly funny way, and we just sort of feel removed from them, and I don't think we do with Downton, I think we feel part of it."
Tuppence Middleton Plays Lucy Smith
"Lucy Smith comes to Downton with the entourage when the Royals come to visit. She is the lady's maid to Maud Bagshaw who is one of the ladies in waiting for the Queen and we start to figure out that there's a slightly unusual relationship going on between her and Lady Bagshaw and that maybe all is not what it seems.."
Joining The Downton Family
"It was really lovely joining the Downton family because it can be quite daunting coming into something like this that is so established. They all know each other so well and it was a huge reunion for them, but it was lovely to see and was such a nice thing to be a part of. All the cast were so welcoming. It was nice in a way to come in with Imelda because although she knew everyone she was also new to the Downton family as a character. It was nice to come in as the outsiders, but we felt very much part of the group."
What Makes Downton Abbey A Success
"Downton Abbey is such a success because there's someone and something for everyone. You really root for the below stairs characters and you revel in the decadence of the upstairs. This sense of tradition that we respect and love to see recreated in British society. Everyone loves a period drama don't they, especially in the UK, and you can't go wrong with Julian Fellowes. It's a winning combination. Plus brilliant acting, beautiful sets and costumes. The characters that people fell in love with, the audience just want to keep coming back and follow their story. It's a rare thing for something to go that long and still keep people really interested. It's definitely got something magic about it."
Differences Between Tv And Film
"Fans are going to really enjoy seeing it on the big screen because there has always been something about Downton Abbey that feels like it should be there. The house itself is so epic that it'll be great to see it large scale. To see these luscious ballrooms and amazing costumes, it feels like it lends itself to that.
"As I play a maid, Lucy would have made a lot of her own clothes so my costumes are quite simple but very beautiful and all hand-made for me, as most of the costumes were. A lady's maid tends to have a uniform for the day and a uniform for the evening, both of them black with shoes, tights, a silk dress with a bit of embroidery on it. There were a couple of times where I got to wear something a bit snazzier during the Royal review. That was quite fun. I loved my little cloche cap, very cute and very 1920's. I wanted to take it home with me."
Imelda Staunton Plays Maud Bagshaw
"I'm one of the new characters arriving at the house and Maud's is an intriguing storyline. My part is intertwined with Maggie Smith, playing Violet, and Penelope Wilton, playing Isobel, and my storyline is mixed up with their stories, which was lovely for me because I know them both so well and it was so very nice to be able to work with them."
Joining The Cast
"I'm married to Carson – otherwise known as Jim Carter – so it was lovely to get the call to be part of it. I'm well aware of the effect it has had around the world. Julian Fellowes has created all those characters that people identify with. They just love all the little intricate stories that they have, and that's what it's all about. That is what the film has got, the below stairs and above stairs characters and just good storylines."
What Makes Downton Abbey A Success
"People like to look at another world and yet recognise similarities in their own life or perhaps their own disappointments, personal problems, emotional problems; births, deaths, marriages. Downton touches on all those things, which makes it so relatable even though it isn't set now. They are still modern issues. It did strike a chord. Sunday night pulls everyone together somehow, still, with all the different television networks and platforms. To have something that we can all go to work and talk about; something that brings us together, is very good for our soul, I think."
"I play a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and there are certain rules that come with that. I want whatever the character needs and I don't need to look good, I just want it to be right. Anna Robbins, the costume designer, has done the most incredible work. I don't think I've seen anything like the level of detail before, it is just phenomenal. That's what you want as an actor. You want that detail, the accuracy. Combined with the wigs and makeup because you want it to look good for the big screen. Downton looks good. It depicts an idyllic slice of fictional life. We all want to be told stories and we want nice endings, then there'll be things that make us cry and things that make us laugh, that's just good storytelling. Then if you can make it look ravishing – which Anna certainly has done – that's what people want. Escapism. And this is it."
Downton Abbey The Movie
Release Date: September 12th, 2019