Downton Abbey stars: The hardest thing is not to cry [WYWIAD]

  • warning! Spoilers appear in the text. If you don’t want to spoil the show, stop reading and come back to it after the show at the cinema. The film was released on May 6.

Bild: The new movie is called “A New Era,” but many fans fear that this may be the end of Downton Abbey. Can you ease their concerns?

Michael Dockery: Downton Abbey will never end for us! But we don’t know yet if there will be more films. The creators will decide – after that, we also hope to learn about their decision.

Hugh Bonneville: It also depends on the viewers! If enough people go to the cinema, we will continue. It certainly won’t come back to us. We also hope that many people who rightly cared about COVID-19 and didn’t want to go to the movies do so now.

You have been building Downton Abbey for nearly 15 years. How has the show changed your life?

dock: completely! It has been an honorable and crazy journey for us from the start. Whenever we get back together, it’s so beautiful for that reason. It rarely feels like a job, but rather a family.

Bonneville: I see it the same way. The whole group is one. Plus, the show gave me a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. For example, she has traveled the world promoting the series, and now also the movie.

Hugh, your Earl of Grantham has never been better in a new movie. I lost about 10 kg. What is your secret?

Bonneville: It’s very simple – my doctor told me I was too fat – and that I should exercise more, eat less, and drink less. I did exactly that. And of course, the technical abilities that make me look better are constantly improving… (Laughter)

Michelle, was the decision to omit Mary’s husband in the movie conscious?

dock: There are a lot of characters in “Downton” – this was, of course, too many for the creators. But it gave me the opportunity to make Mary flirt with men again, which I have always loved. I didn’t decide it myself, but I don’t mind.

In the movie, the actors are described as “always drunk and saucy, with sticky fingers”. How realistic are these cliches?

Bonneville: Totally Correct! I look horrible without makeup and Michelle drunk all day. But seriously, it was just too funny to make fun of each other with the movie crew.

Although the film takes place in the 1920s, in many places it refers to the present, for example through a gay theme.

Bonneville: I think the topic of Thomas Barrow is very important. It sheds light on the path our society must take and how far we have come today in terms of tolerance. But there are also a lot of strong women on the show: Mary, Edith and Sybil, but also Violet and Isabel. They had a much greater effect than it seemed at first glance. It also reflects our progress in the field of women’s rights.

Hugh, we see you crying in two scenes. Is it easy for you to do this at any time?

Bonneville: My trick is toilet paper and a dog. In England we have a popular ad with a puppy who got pregnant. Always Makes Me Cry As a real actor, I always think of that dog and toilet paper – and I could cry, becoming such a dog.

Penelope Welton (Isobel Merton) and Maggie Smith (Violet Grantham) in the movie Penelope Wilton (Isobel Merton) and Maggie Smith (Violet Grantham) in “DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era” – Ben Blackall / 2022 Focus Features LLC.

Speaking of emotion: Violet Crowley’s death at the end of the movie will make many fans cry. How hard is it to say goodbye to Maggie Smith?

dock: It was very difficult – both for our characters and for us personally. The hardest challenge was to refrain from crying in that scene because it made me realize she was leaving us, either way. Maggie has been a part of our lives for so long that the atmosphere on set was filled with anxiety. It was a very emotional experience for everyone.

Bonneville: We said goodbye to Maggie three times – and she’s only worth three goodbyes. Of course, there was also a brutal death scene, but there was also one last scene in the dining room. It was like a goodbye too, we sat together a lot. And then the really last scene – which we shot recently. It was just a very small scene – but we all had to swallow it afterwards because it was her last sight. All three farewells were very emotional and difficult – because he is just a living legend. So I’m going to do everything in my power to make her appear in the third movie somehow – even if she has to come back as a ghost.

dock: We roasted it and deposited it three times.

Michel, the movie begins with a wedding. You just got engaged. Is the wedding date set — and will Hugh be there?

dock: It’s all still top secret, and I shouldn’t reveal anything about it. But of course Hugh will be there.

Bonneville: I’m the perfect bridesmaid, I look good now. (Laughter)

In Germany, Downton Abbey has millions of fans. What do you attribute to Germany?

dock: I love Berlin. I always visit this city whenever I can, I’ve been there more than 20 times. The atmosphere in the city is great.

Bonneville: I’ve worked in Berlin and Munich – and have always enjoyed being there, even though I don’t have any personal relationships with any of these cities.

Hugh, what would your wife and fiancé Michelle say if you asked them if you had anything to do with your roles? Are there more differences?

Bonneville: My wife used to say I do some housework like Robert. The biggest difference is that we don’t have such wonderful Labradors. We have to change it!

dock: I am very different from Mary. (Jasper Waller-Bridge – the actress’s fiancé – editor’s note) would have said that I, unlike her, were more realistic. But I really like the fashion in her style. I love wearing her gorgeous clothes.

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