Maggie Smith may not return for Downton Abbey sequel – report

Maggie Smith may be unable to reprise her role in the Downton Abbey sequel due to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.The 85-year-old actress has played the role of Dowager Countess Lady Violet of Grantham since the British TV series began in 2010, and re…

Maggie Smith may be unable to reprise her role in the Downton Abbey sequel due to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 85-year-old actress has played the role of Dowager Countess Lady Violet of Grantham since the British TV series began in 2010, and reprised the character for the highly-anticipated big screen spin-off, which was released last year.

Maggie was reportedly in negotiations to portray the matriarch for the planned sequel, but producers fear that she won’t be allowed back on set due to the coronavirus outbreak, British newspaper The Sun reports.

A source from film studio Focus Features told the publication that the possibility of Maggie returning have now been dashed, as the veteran actress is at risk of contracting the respiratory disease.

“Before lockdown, the hope was that Dame Maggie was considering a return for the sequel,” the insider said. “There was a genuine feeling that even having her return for just a flashback would leave fans delighted.

“She has been the spirit and heart of the Downton project for years so it will be really sad if they can’t make it work.”

Last year’s movie, which concluded with Lady Violet not having long to live, raked in more than $192 million (£153 million) at the box office. It also featured the TV show’s much-loved stars, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter and Joanne Froggatt.

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Paul King won’t return to direct Paddington 3

Paul King has revealed he won’t be back to direct Paddington 3. The British filmmaker helped bring Michael Bond’s fictional bear to the big screen for the first time with 2014’s Paddington and followed it up with a sequel in 2017. Both films have been…

Paul King has revealed he won’t be back to direct Paddington 3.

The British filmmaker helped bring Michael Bond’s fictional bear to the big screen for the first time with 2014’s Paddington and followed it up with a sequel in 2017. Both films have been critical and commercial successes, with Paddington 2 currently holding the Rotten Tomatoes record for the film with the most reviews to have a 100 per cent approval rating.

In an interview with Empire magazine, King revealed that a third film was in the works but he was stepping down as director to focus on his other projects.

“At some point, you just have to stop. It might be time for somebody else to do a twist on it,” he explained. “I’m trying not to do a third bear movie, which is a huge, huge mistake.”

He admitted that although the movies have been “one of the great treats of my life”, he’s working on “far too much” other material, such as a new collaboration with Paddington 2 co-writer Simon Farnaby and a movie about Willy Wonka.

King, who recently directed two episodes of new Netflix comedy Space Force, will remain connected to the franchise as an executive producer. He confirmed that a screenplay is being written for Paddington 3 and there is much life left in the franchise.

“It’s not like Paddington dies at the end. He doesn’t ascend into the sky on a rocket-powered marmalade jar,” he added.

James Bond actor Ben Whishaw voices the CGI Peruvian bear, who lives in London with his adopted family, the Browns, played by live-action actors including Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, and Julie Walters.

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Michelle Dockery cried at first Downton Abbey movie fitting

Michelle Dockery was overcome with emotion when she first tried on dresses for her first Downton Abbey movie costume fitting. The British actress played Lady Mary Crawley in the hit period drama series, which originally aired from 2010 to 2015, and s…

Michelle Dockery was overcome with emotion when she first tried on dresses for her first Downton Abbey movie costume fitting. 

The British actress played Lady Mary Crawley in the hit period drama series, which originally aired from 2010 to 2015, and she has reprised the role for the upcoming big-screen version.  

In a new interview with U.S. InStyle magazine, Michelle opened up about how lovely it was to reunite with castmates such as Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, and Joanne Froggatt, but also how odd it was to be back in her old costumes.  

“For my first Downton fitting, I felt quite emotional putting those dresses back on. Some were reused, but because it’s a film, we also dialled it up a notch. We could afford to go slightly grander,” she told the publication. “It felt like no time had passed at all. (I realised) I’d taken some things for granted. Like driving up to that house, it honestly took my breath away. But I think the three-year gap was perfect, because we’d all been off doing our own thing, and it was enough time to really, really miss it.” 

The movie focuses on the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary at the Crawley family’s English country estate, and London-born star assured fans that narrative follows on from the beloved TV programme.

“The film is very much a continuation of the show and everything that people loved about it. It really is for our brilliant, loyal fans,” the 37-year-old gushed.   

Elsewhere in the chat, Michelle sweetly credited Downton Abbey for helping to shape her career and personal life.   

“Downton played a huge part in shaping me as a person. We all went through our ups and our downs over the years, and in some ways the show supported us. Going back every year kept our feet on the ground,” she stated. 

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Laura Carmichael: ‘It was mad to be back at Downton Abbey’ 

Laura Carmichael found it “mad to be back” with her old castmates while shooting the Downton Abbey movie.The film, slated for release in September, will see Michelle Dockery return to her role as Lady Mary, alongside Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Hugh…

Laura Carmichael found it “mad to be back” with her old castmates while shooting the Downton Abbey movie.

The film, slated for release in September, will see Michelle Dockery return to her role as Lady Mary, alongside Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley.

And now Laura, who plays Lady Edith, has revealed to Collider that she had a lovely time filming with her friends.

“It was really cool. We had a really nice time. It was fantastic. Being around the dining room table again was like, ‘I can’t believe we’re back here!’ It was kind of bonkers. It was mad to be back, but just delightful to be back with friends,” she gushed.

As a huge fan of the programme, Laura was very happy to see Michelle and Jim Carter, who plays butler Carson, back in their roles.

“As someone who loves the show, it was a thrill to see Jim Carter be Carson again, and (Michelle) be Lady Mary. It was like, ‘There you are! It’s you again!’ We see each other quite a lot, but to see them return to those characters, I found exciting. I hope we translate that, on screen.

“It feels like it’s been a long time, but also no time, at the same time. I think it’s a good distance. It’s good timing,” the 32-year-old shared.

Laura is currently starring the Starz drama series The Spanish Princess, which is adapted from the novels of Philippa Gregory and follows the story of Catherine of Aragon, who became the first wife of King Henry VIII.

The British actress plays Maggie Pole, the aunt and mentor to Prince Arthur, and said she was able to understand her character’s loss in the first few lines of the script.

“It’s a really cool part. I really like how you really know where she’s coming from,” she added.

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Julian Fellowes hints at Downton Abbey film follow-up

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has hinted that a sequel to the upcoming film version of the hit period drama is a very real possibility.The wait for a new instalment of the beloved TV show is nearly over for Downton devotees, with the feature no…

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes has hinted that a sequel to the upcoming film version of the hit period drama is a very real possibility.

The wait for a new instalment of the beloved TV show is nearly over for Downton devotees, with the feature now in its post-production stage.

It’s been more than three years since fans last checked in with the Crawley family and their servants, but Julian, who wrote the movie’s script, has now hinted that more could be on its way.

“I haven’t killed off half the cast in a (British soap opera) Coronation Street-style tram crash so a follow-up is definitely a possibility,” he coyly told The Sun newspaper.

Show favourites Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter, among many others, are all back for Downton Abbey the film, which is slated to hit theatres in September (19).

Talking about what fans can expect, Joanne, who has played lady’s maid Anna Bates since the show’s premiere in 2010, told The Times newspaper that cinemagoers won’t be disappointed with the movie continuation.

“The people who love the TV series are the people who are going to want to see the movie, for the most part, so I think it’s got all the things that people loved about Downton, but elevated. It looks very cinematic; there are big, beautiful set pieces,” she smiled.

She also hinted that a follow-up could be in the pipeline.

“If people still want it. One step at a time, but if we can do something really quality, then yes. Never say never,” she teased.

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Jim Carter hesitant to wait on wife Imelda Staunton on Downton Abbey movie set

Jim Carter is worried his wife Imelda Staunton will blur the lines of reality now she’s joined the Downton Abbey movie.Jim has been part of the Downton cast since the show first aired in 2010, playing loyal butler Charles Carson.He’ll be back waiting h…

Jim Carter is worried his wife Imelda Staunton will blur the lines of reality now she’s joined the Downton Abbey movie.

Jim has been part of the Downton cast since the show first aired in 2010, playing loyal butler Charles Carson.

He’ll be back waiting hand and foot on the aristocratic Crawley family in the big screen version of the period drama, while his wife of 35 years Imelda is among the newbies joining the franchise.

“We don’t actually speak to each other because she is upstairs and I am downstairs. She is harbouring the fond belief that I shall be serving her wine this week but, just in case she thinks that was going to spread into our private life, I think I will have Carson refuse,” he smiled to British newspaper Metro.

Many of the core cast are also back for the film, which series creator Julian Fellowes has written, including Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville.

Viewers last saw the goings on at the fictional Yorkshire country estate during the 2015 Christmas special, but Jim says it took no time for him and his co-stars to get reacquainted.

“It’s a bit like going back to school, asking how everyone is and about their summer, and then within five minutes you are back into the routine,” he shared. “I’ve been down at Highclere Castle (where Downton is filmed) all this week and it is lovely to see everybody, with the added bonus that Imelda is in it this time.”

As for what he’d like to see happen to Carson in the movie, directed Michael Engler, the 70-year-old admitted he was ready to put his feet up a bit more.

“Oh, God knows. Invent the smorgasbord so the posh people can feed themselves,” he laughed. “I think he should fit a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table so they can just spin it and pick their own dishes, and let me put my feet up and do the crosswords.”

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