Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of PBS's DOWNTON ABBEY Season 3
Written and created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey, Season 3 is a Carnival Films and Masterpiece coproduction, in association with NBCUniversal. The series won an impressive six Primetime Emmy® Awards and a Golden Globe® in its first season. Recent honors for Season 2 include multi-category nominations from the Critics' Choice Awards and from the Television Critics Association.
The returning cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle and a host of others, joined by Shirley MacLaine (Oscar® for Best Actress, Terms of Endearment), who plays Martha Levinson, the very American mother of Cora, Countess of Grantham (McGovern).
Last season closed with the reluctant heir to Downton, Matthew Crawley (Stevens), recovered from his war wounds and ready to tie the knot with the eldest of Lord and Lady Grantham's daughters, Lady Mary (Dockery). Meanwhile, Mary's youngest sister, Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay), has eloped to Ireland with the political-minded chauffeur, Branson (Allen Leech), and is expecting a child.
A tantalizing glimpse ahead: Downton's impeccable butler, Carson (Carter), breaks in a new footman, who happens to be the nephew of the scheming lady's maid O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran). Following Matthew and Mary's engagement, Robert sticks to his duty to maintain Downton more firmly than ever — even as other great houses are crippled psychologically and financially in the wake of World War I. In this changing landscape nothing is assured, and could it be that even the war-weary Crawleys must fight a new battle to safeguard their beloved Downton?
Tom Branson. (Allen Leech) - The former chauffeur is now married to Sybil, and living in Dublin. Tom is still reluctant to conform to the Crawley family?s expectations of him which Matthew can understand. Encouraged by the way Sybil has embraced their new life, he has been writing for rebel newspapers and is a convinced republican. But while he nurtures a rabid hatred of the British Empire and longs to destroy all the Establishment stands for, he is still compromised by his passionate love for a young woman who might be thought an emblem of that Establishment. Taking Sybil Crawley as his wife means there is a contradiction in his very heart.
Ethel Parks. (Amy Nuttall) - The once bright and pretty housemaid has fallen on very hard times. Having turned down the Bryants? offer to care for her little boy, Charlie, she is struggling to make ends meet, and her struggle has taken her to the very bottom of the ditch. The question is really whether or not anyone will give her another chance.
John Bates. (Brendan Coyle) Life Prisoner. Former valet. After being convicted of the murder of his wife Vera Bates, Bates was relieved when his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He continues to protest his innocence, and is grateful for his wife Anna?s unshakeable belief, and determination to overturn the verdict. But he has a long sentence ahead of him, and when he finds himself confined, at close quarters, with some highly undesirable characters, prison life throws up more obstacles for Bates.
Ivy Stuart. (Cara Theobold). Scullery maid. The pretty and fresh faced kitchenmaid will join Mrs Patmore?s team in the kitchen. Her arrival causes some interest among the male staff, and Alfred?s interest, in particular, is bound to make trouble for Ivy.
Matthew Crawley. (Dan Stevens). Matthew is convinced that Lavinia?s heartbreak at seeing him kiss Mary contributed to her death. Now they are engaged, he cherishes Mary, but he cannot throw off a sense of guilt where Lavinia is concerned, and this will cause problems when Downton is threatened. Ideally, he would like to live a simpler life, away from Downton at first, so he and his new wife can get to know each other. Initially reluctant to involve himself with the estate, Matthew will become drawn into the detail of what he will inherit one day, and his relationship with his father-in-law will be troubled by what he discovers.
Doctor Clarkson (David Robb) - Richard Clarkson is a country doctor, occupying that slightly uncomfortable tier somewhere between the Crawley family and the village. His long history of treating members of the Crawley family means he is Cora?s preference at any time of medical need, but his misdiagnosis of Matthew?s condition, and Lavinia?s death from Spanish Flu, have together marred his record for Robert. Their disagreement over his talents place them in an impossible place.
Jimmy Kent. (Ed Speleers). Footman. Jimmy is incredibly handsome. As former footman to the Dowager Lady Anstruther, Jimmy applies for the job of footman, and immediately catches the eye of the female staff. And he does not go unnoticed by Thomas, either. He has an air of natural confidence and grace which Alfred lacks, and which means that Jimmy takes the role of first footman, as a natural right, a bone of contention.
Countess of Grantham, Cora. (Elizabeth McGovern). Cora was thrilled to receive news that Sybil was expecting their first grandchild. Loyal to Robert In all things, she wants to persuade him to accept Sybil?s marriage and would love to welcome Branson to Mary?s wedding. Cora is less afraid of the changes that the future may bring to them all. The arrival of her mother, Martha, is a reminder that, despite her father?s fortune, Cora?s blood is less blue, and her outlook less hidebound by history, than those of the Crawleys?.
Earl of Grantham, Robert. (Hugh Bonneville). Robert Is delighted that Matthew will soon be his son-in-law as well as his heir. He remains less enamoured with Branson, and struggles with the fact that Sybil has married the chauffeur, a source of gossip in the county. But he has other things to worry about. In the aftermath of the Great War, houses like Downton are being hit by new financial worries. In this changing landscape nothing is assured and, as Robert?s custodianship of the estate comes under scrutiny, he is called to account for his past decisions.
Jessica Brown Findlay
Lady Sybil Crawley. (Jessica Brown Findlay) Following her marriage to Tom Branson in Dublin, Sybil is expecting her first child. She is largely free of her role as an aristocrat and has happily settled in to her life as ?Mrs Branson?. However, Branson refuses to spend Robert?s money on himself, and so their finances are strained. She plans to resume her nursing career as soon as the baby is born, but that does not solve the problem of travelling over for Mary?s wedding. Ultimately, for all her brave talk, Sybil feels safe at Downton and she longs for her husband to be accepted in the world of her childhood.
Mr Carson. (Jim Carter). The butler. Carson is keen to get the staffing levels at Downton back up to scratch. He has kept standards as high as he could during the war years, managing without footmen and pushing himself to the limit, and he was mortified to suffer a physical breakdown in front of the family. With opportunities to return the staffing to pre-war levels, Carson is nevertheless aware that the servant class has been changed by the war, and many young men and women aspire to move in different directions. He has to learn to accept Matthew as co-master, but he remains eternally loyal to his beloved Mary.
Anna Bates. (Joanne Froggatt). The head housemaid. Anna has made her choice of Mr Bates and nothing will alter that. But with her husband in prison, she works relentlessly to find a way to free him. Encouraged by Bates to carry on and live her life while he is incarcerated, she tries to keep her spirits up, and her long service through good and bad times has cemented her friendship with her principal employer, Mary, but it?s her husband?s regular letters which are the highlight of her week.
Molesley. (Kevin Doyle). Matthew?s valet. Life is an uphill struggle for Molesley. He spends a lot of time trying to convince Matthew Crawley that he will need a proper valet at the big house, once he is married to Lady Mary. But is Matthew listening, and will Molesley finally get his moment?
Lady Edith Crawley. (Laura Carmichael). Edith has always resented her sisters. Mary is so good looking and sought after, Sybil so full of her own passionate dreams, that they both cast Edith into the shade. For Edith, the war brought a sense of possibility, a sense, for the first time, of really possessing a talent for helping, both on The Farms and caring for officers in the convalescent home. She misses this sense of self-worth and her post-war life seems empty. Added to which, with so many young men lost, potential suitors are thin on the ground. But she is still keen on Sir Anthony Strallan, despite the age difference between them, and, underneath, she is quite as determined as her sisters to have her own way.
Mrs Patmore. (Lesley Nicol). The cook. Mrs Patmore is still firmly in charge of the kitchen and kitchen staff and religiously defends her rights and privileges, against all comers. Having agreed with Daisy that there was a possibility of her moving up to a position as an assistant cook, she finds herself under pressure to deliver the new kitchen maid who would make Daisy?s promotion meaningful. She is shrewd and observant when it comes to the romantic desires of the younger members of staff, and in fact, in her domain, nothing goes unnoticed.
Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet. (Maggie Smith). Violet continues to expect the same unforgiving standards, from herself and her family, that she always did. But even she is aware that the world is changing and the family must look to protecting its kingdom in the new century. She takes a particular interest in Edith. Having once encouraged her meetings with Anthony Strallan, she now believes his disability and age make him an undesirable match. The arrival of Martha Levinson, with her plain-spoken observations about where the world is headed, sets Violet?s teeth on edge.
Alfred Nugent. (Matt Milne). Footman. O?Brien?s awkward, tall nephew lands a job as the new footman, with the help of his aunt. Alfred used to be a hotel waiter, and as he struggles to meet Carson?s exacting standards, some of his old habits may prove hard to break. However, his real problem is whether or not he?s in the right career, after all.
Lady Mary Crawley. (Michelle Dockery). Mary broke off her engagement with the rich and powerful newspaper proprietor, Sir Richard Carlisle. Now happily engaged to the heir, Matthew Crawley, and planning their life together, Mary finds her loyalties tested when the future of her beloved Downton is under threat. When Lavinia?s father offers a chance of salvation, Matthew is unable to free himself of a sense of guilt and obligation that prevents him taking advantage of the opportunity, which Mary cannot understand.
Isobel Crawley. (Penelope Wilton). Having clashed with Cora over the running of the convalescent home at Downton, Isobel left to work with the Red Cross during the war. Her passion for good causes is undimmed and the dislocation of the post-war world gives her plenty of opportunity. She has been working with destitute fallen women in York, helping them to find alternative employment and teaching them skills, work that will lead her into a complicated situation. She is happy for Matthew to marry Mary, she is also keen for her son to make his mark on Downton. Perhaps he will wrestle the estate into the twentieth century?
Mrs Hughes. (Phyllis Logan). The housekeeper is unsentimental, but moral and decent. In fact, she is a kind woman but she feels her position depends on strict discipline, both in the management of her staff and of herself. Mrs Hughes has kept in touch with Ethel Parks, the housemaid who became pregnant by a convalescing officer, and the connection will lead to complications. In this, as in all things, she has always tried to act for the best, but she feels guilty about the evidence she gave at Bates?s trial, which led to his conviction.
Thomas Barrow. (Rob James-Collier). The Valet. Given a second chance by Robert, after impressing him with his commitment to finding the dog, Isis, Thomas has become Robert?s valet. Despite this, he?s always on the look out for the main chance, and his transparent self-interest wins him no allies downstairs, in the process alienating his old partner in crime, Miss O?Brien. But even Thomas has a heart.
Lady Rosamund Painswick. (Samantha Bond). Lady Rosamund enjoyed a flirtation with the raffish Lord Hepworth, but was disappointed to learn he was a fortune hunter who was in league with her maid. While happily married to the late, and wonderfully rich, Marmaduke Painswick, she has no children which has left her both lonely and firmly inclined to poke around in the business of her nieces. The arrival on the scene of Lady Rose MacClare, the daughter of her cousin, Lady Flintshire, will give her more opportunities to interfere.
Martha Levinson. (Shirley MacLaine) Magnificent in her lack of deference, Cora?s mother, Martha, sweeps into Downton for Mary and Matthew?s wedding and her arrival causes a stir above and below stairs. Her late husband Isidore, a dry goods millionaire from Cincinnati, left her a fortune and she enjoys her money. But, unlike Violet, she is not afraid of the future and she advises the family not to try to hold on to the past, when they are bound to be defeated. In other words, her philosophies are diametrically opposed to Violet?s.
Sarah O'Brien. (Siobhan Finneran). The lady?s maid. O?Brien?s responsibilities are to her Mistress But she will always follow her own interest. She seizes on an opportunity to give her nephew a position within the household, and is fiercely protective of him. If she had her way, Alfred would be rising up the servants? ranks even more quickly than most men could hope for, but below stairs everyone is protective of his or her position. O?Brien?s continued disregard of this fact, in her efforts to promote her sister?s son, rankles with the staff, and especially with her former ally, Thomas.
Daisy Robinson. (Sophie McShera). The kitchenmaid promoted to assistant cook. Daisy is still at the beck and call of Mrs Patmore, still the dogsbody, still at the bottom of this particular heap. However, her husband William?s death showed that life is short. With encouragement from William?s father, she has spoken up and demanded her promotion to assistant cook. The trouble is that the post-war situation means she has some time to wait before Mrs Patmore can deliver what she promises.