In the summer of 2018, news of a Downton Abbey film was made official, to raptuous applause from fans of the long-running ITV drama. And now it’s almost here!
With a release date of 13 September, we officially have less than two weeks before the Crawley family make their triumphant return, this time on the big screen, but in the meantime, there’s plenty of titbits from the set to keep us busy.
Not only is there an exciting trailer and a series of swanky images for the film, but the creators have just released yet another teaser clip. This time, we get a look at Maggie Smith doing what she does best – serving sass. The Downton veteran is back as Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and things are intense as she is reunited with an old rival.
— Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) June 17, 2019
— Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) June 17, 2019
After watching that, it’s safe to say we’re counting down the days for the film’s release. So while we wait, here’s everything we know about the Downton Abbey film so far…
What is the plot of the Downton Abbey film?
When we last left Downton (on Christmas Day 2015, no less), Lady Edith married Bertie, Mary revealed that she was pregnant with her second child, Anna welcomed her first, and Carson resigned as butler because of his debilitating illness.
Now a brand new trailer, which debuted at CinemaCon, has finally revealed the plot of the movie, showing that it will be focused around a visit from the royal family. Set in 1927, the Downton Abbey film will see the Crawley family and their loyal staff thrown into a frenzy with the unexpected arrival of King George V and Queen Mary.
As reported by Variety, the family ask retired head butler Carson (Jim Carter) to return to help them run things as the aftermath of the Great Depression has meant they have fewer servants at their Yorkshire estate.
Speaking to Reuters about the film, Carter said: ‘It was a slightly thinner experience because I don’t think for instance the kitchen staff met any of the upstairs staff, or hardly any of them because it was… quicker.’
‘It was 10 weeks instead of six months,’ he continued. ‘We were filming separately in our own little stories a lot more than we were on the TV programme.
Reminiscing on the experience, he added: ‘Filming the film which we finished in November, that was just like going back to the TV series. We all knew each other. As soon as you put your costume on, you’re back in character really.’
Meanwhile, in the film, Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is contemplating leaving the estate to start a new life, while Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), Lady Mary’s loyal maid, reminds her of the role that Downton plays in the quaint English village.
‘Downton Abbey is the heart of this community and you’re keeping it beating,’ she tells Mary in the trailer.
The details released from the set have long since ended rumours amongst fans that the movie may have been a prequel, which stemmed from a previous interview with Julian Fellowes.
Speaking at a BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture back in 2012, he admitted: ‘I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London.
‘They had a slightly troubled courtship because she was in love with him before they married, and as we know, he married her entirely for her money.’
Of course, we now know that this will not be the framework for the film – but can we have it as a TV special please?
Which cast members will return for the Downton Abbey film?
Almost all of the faces you know and love from the series will be back for the movie – Dame Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Joanne Froggatt and Hugh Bonneville have all been confirmed to resume their roles.
However, it’s not been an easy task to bring everyone together – Fellowes said to The Mirror that the delay in beginning the film process was down to ‘rounding up the actors who have now gone off to the four corners of the earth, in Hollywood, on Broadway, doing plays, doing series, and so on.’
One star who won’t be returning, however, is Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again‘s Lily James, who told People: ‘I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can’t be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline… There was no space for Rose.’
Phylis Logan, or Mrs Hughes, as she’s better known to viewers, also confirmed that Dan Stevens, who played Lady Mary’s late husband Matthew Crawley, will not be resuming his role in any flashbacks. ‘He comes back as the ghost of Christmas past,’ she joked, adding: ‘Sadly he’s still dead.’
The film will be directed by Michael Engler – who directed four episodes of the show and the pilot for Fellowes’ new project The Gilded Age – and distributed by Universal Studios.
When will the Downton Abbey film be released in the UK?
On the show’s official Facebook page, it was confirmed that: ‘The doors to Downton Abbey will open once more on Friday, September 20, 2019 in North America and Friday, September 13, 2019 internationally. Be sure to dust off your finery for our big screen debut.’
And while the film is still months away from arriving in cinemas, there are already conversations about a sequel, according to the show’s creator Julian Fellowes.
Fellowes – who is also working on a new ITV drama – has revealed that fans won’t have to worry too much about brutal murders as they won’t be going Game of Thrones on us and killing off half the cast, meaning a second film could well happen.
Speaking to The Sun, he said: ‘I haven’t killed off half the cast in a Coronation Street style crash so a follow-up is a definite possibility.’