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.
More On: Shirley MacLaine, Julian Fellowes, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle.