What Happened to the Downton Abbey Cast? Their Careers and Personal Lives After the Cult Series

2 months ago

Join us on a journey through time as we catch up with the beloved Downton Abbey cast. From the stately halls of the Crawley estate to the bright lights of Hollywood, discover where your favorite characters have ventured since bidding farewell to the iconic period drama.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley

At the core of the Downton Abbey cast is Lady Mary Crawley, brought to life by Michelle Dockery. As the eldest daughter of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, Lady Mary’s journey is pivotal to the show.

The series begins with a tragedy that deeply affects the Crawley family. Lady Mary grapples with the loss of her two cousins, one of whom she intended to marry to secure her family’s financial future. This event sparks a significant transformation in her character. Initially portrayed as self-centered, Lady Mary is compelled to confront her flaws and develop into a more compassionate individual.

Securing the role of Lady Mary was a turning point in Dockery’s career. Despite being relatively unknown at the time, the opportunity was a pleasant surprise. Reflecting on the experience, Dockery described it as life-changing in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. The role not only boosted her acting career but also earned her critical acclaim, including multiple award nominations and wins.

After Downton Abbey, Dockery continued to impress audiences with her talent in various television series like Good Behavior and Godless, earning her further accolades. Additionally, she reprised her iconic role in Downton-related projects, captivating fans once again.

In 2023, Dockery entered a new chapter in her personal life by marrying Jasper Waller-Bridge, brother of the talented Phoebe Waller-Bridge. As she continues to enthrall audiences with her performances, Michelle Dockery remains a revered figure in the entertainment industry.

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley

© Downton Abbey / Carnival Film & Television and co-producer, Julie Edwards / LFI / Avalon / Photoshot / East News

Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, portrayed by Maggie Smith, is one of Downton Abbey’s most iconic characters. With her wit, charm, and strong presence, she captivated audiences as the matriarch of the Crawley family.

Initially depicted as a formidable figure adhering to traditional social norms, Violet undergoes a gradual transformation throughout the show’s six seasons. While maintaining her convictions, she begins to embrace modernity with grace and poise.

Before her role in Downton Abbey, Maggie Smith had already established herself as a legendary actress with a career spanning decades, including memorable roles like Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series. Despite her success, she expressed occasional dissatisfaction with her roles.

Nevertheless, Smith’s portrayal of Violet Crawley garnered widespread acclaim, earning her multiple award nominations and wins, solidifying her status as a celebrated actress.

Beyond Downton Abbey, Smith’s career is marked by memorable performances in films such as Sister Act, Gosford Park, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. With her unmatched acting prowess and global appeal, Maggie Smith continues to be revered as one of the greatest actresses of her generation.

Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley

Hugh Bonneville had already established a solid career in British television long before his appearance in the hit film Notting Hill. However, it was his role as the patriarch of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey that truly propelled him into the international spotlight. This iconic role garnered him widespread recognition, earning him two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nod.

As Lord Grantham, Bonneville portrays a man deeply devoted to his family and his ancestral home of Downton. He is determined to preserve the estate at any cost, even if it means making difficult decisions. While he sympathizes with the challenges faced by his daughters, particularly Mary’s inability to inherit Downton due to societal norms, Lord Grantham remains steadfast in his commitment to tradition, often leading his family with a sense of duty and honor.

Despite the pressures of his role, Lord Grantham finds himself occasionally at odds with the progressive views of the changing times, especially when confronted by the strong-willed women in his life who outnumber him.

Following his success on Downton Abbey, Bonneville continued to thrive in both Hollywood and the U.K., notably portraying Mr. Henry Brown in the beloved Paddington films.

In his personal life, Bonneville underwent a significant change in 2023, as he separated from his wife of 25 years, Lucinda Williams. Despite this, he remains a respected figure in the entertainment industry, admired for his talent and versatility on screen.

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley

Laura Carmichael excelled as Lady Edith Crawley in Downton Abbey, mastering the role of the middle sister. Positioned between Lady Mary and Lady Sybil, she courageously charts her own path, defying societal norms by prioritizing her career over marriage. Edith emerges as a feminist symbol, learning from her mistakes and prioritizing her loved ones’ well-being.

Reflecting on her portrayal of Edith, Carmichael expressed gratitude for the opportunity to delve into such a complex character. In a 2022 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she described the experience as a gift, highlighting the joy of working on the show and the captivating journey it provided.

Since her time on Downton Abbey, Carmichael has showcased her versatility in projects like The Spanish Princess and The Secrets She Keeps. Additionally, the show played a significant role in her personal life, as she formed a lasting relationship with co-star Michael Fox, who portrayed Andy Parker.

Laura Carmichael’s portrayal of Lady Edith and her continued success in the entertainment industry have solidified her as a celebrated figure, admired for her talent, dedication, and authenticity both on and off-screen.

Allen Leech as Tom Branson

Tom Branson’s journey in Downton Abbey is extraordinary, starting as a chauffeur and rising to great power and wealth. Along the way, he experiences a captivating love story and numerous unexpected twists. Allen Leech portrays Branson as unimpressed by the opulence of Downton, proud of his Irish heritage, and fearless in standing up for his beliefs.

While Leech is best known for his role as Branson, he has also appeared in acclaimed projects like Bohemian Rhapsody and The Good Doctor. Additionally, he showcased his talent in the Irish miniseries The Vanishing Triangle in 2023.

In 2019, Leech married actress Jessica Blair Herman, and they now have two children.

Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates

© Downton Abbey / Carnival Film & Television and co-producer, Lionel Guericolas / MPP / Starface/STARFACE PHOTO / East News

Joanne Froggatt acknowledges that her role as lady’s maid Anna Bates in Downton Abbey significantly boosted her career. In a 2021 interview with The Guardian, Froggatt expressed gratitude for the opportunity, stating, “I’d been working professionally for 12 years when I got the role of Anna, and it hugely elevated my career. It was wonderful, but we finished at the right time. Now it’s lovely to pop back and do the movies.”

As Anna Bates, Froggatt portrayed captivating storylines involving love, marriage, and loss, while caring for Lady Mary Crawley and the family. Her empathetic performance earned her three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award.

Following Downton, Froggatt has primarily focused on television, appearing in shows like Bob the Builder, Liar, Angela Black, and North Shore.

She married James Cannon in 2012, but revealed their separation in 2020.

Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley

Cora Crawley is one of the main members of the Downton Abbey сast. As a mother of three daughters in an era when women have limited influence over their lives, Cora Crawley prioritizes her daughters’ happiness and journeys. An American, Cora brought a sense of novelty to her London home when she arrived in the late 1880s with her mother and marriage prospects in mind.

Before her role in Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern had already established herself as a prominent actress, rising to fame in the 1980s with an Oscar nomination for Ragtime. She continued to excel in films like Once Upon a Time in America, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Wings of the Dove. McGovern’s career often intertwined American and British themes, showcased in projects like the documentary Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters, where she voiced Wallis Simpson.

While receiving nominations from both the Emmys and Golden Globes in Downton’s early days, McGovern collaborated with the show’s creator, Julian Fellowes, in 2018 for The Chaperone, exploring women’s experiences in the 1920s New York City. Despite her historical drama credits, McGovern emphasizes that the story and characters, rather than the period setting, drive her choices.

Married to director Simon Curtis since 1992, McGovern continues to make her mark in the entertainment industry, including in the upcoming Downton Abbey: A New Era, directed by her husband.

Jim Carter as Charles Carson

Jim Carter’s portrayal of Charles Carson, the steadfast butler of Downton Abbey, exuded dependability and reliability. Joining the staff at a young age, Carson worked his way up to his esteemed position, earning the trust of Lord Grantham and gaining insight into every aspect of the household. Despite his dedication to his duties, Carson’s personal life takes a turn in later seasons, much to the delight of fans.

Following his acclaimed role in Downton, which earned him four Emmy nominations, Carter continued to showcase his talents in films like Transformers: The Last Knight and The Sea Beast, as well as new Wonka.

Carter has been married to Imelda Staunton since 1982, and their daughter, Bessie Carter, has also pursued a career in acting.

Jessica Brown Findlay as Sybil Crawley

© Downton Abbey / Carnival Film & Television and co-producer, Marechal Aurore / ABACA / Abaca / East News

Sybil Crawley, the youngest daughter of Robert and Cora Crawley, brings a refreshing perspective to life at Downton Abbey. While she enjoys a more carefree pace compared to her older sisters, Sybil is deeply passionate about politics and advocates for equality among the staff at Downton. Her romance with the family’s chauffeur, Thomas Branson, sparks both intrigue and challenges, creating a memorable storyline.

Reflecting on her experience with Downton Abbey, Jessica Brown Findlay admitted that the show’s overwhelming success took her by surprise. She explained, “Downton exploded in a way I wasn’t ready for. For my mental health I needed to keep it more low-key. I would have got lost in Hollywood. The idea of eventually having that kind of success is exciting, but I’d like to have it in my 30s or 40s because it would be in perspective. Earlier, it would have destroyed me.”

Since then, Brown Findlay has showcased her talent in various films and TV series, including Winter’s Tale, Victor Frankenstein, Harlots, and Brave New World.

In 2020, she tied the knot with fellow actor Ziggy Heath.

Sophie McShera as Daisy Mason

Sophie McShera’s character, Daisy Mason, starts as a maid and progresses in the kitchen. Her journey involves standing up to Mrs. Patmore’s strictness while staying true to herself.

Although Downton Abbey is her most notable role, McShera also appeared in The Queen’s Gambit and had roles in films like Cinderella and The Personal History of David Copperfield. Additionally, she starred in the BBC miniseries The Gallows Pole in 2023.

Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes

From the very start, Mrs. Hughes plays a vital role in the life of Downton Abbey and its inhabitants. As head housekeeper, she’s the anchor of the household, offering wise counsel and support to both staff and the Crawley family. Towards the series’ end, Mrs. Hughes finds love, a fitting reward for her years of selfless service.

Since Downton Abbey, Phyllis Logan has taken on various roles, including appearances in Doctor Who and lending her voice to a character in The Adventures of Paddington. Despite the large ensemble of Downton, Logan mentioned in a 2017 interview that the Downton Abbey cast still has reunions, with around 30 of them attending a recent dinner meetup.

Lily James as Lady Rose Aldridge

Lady Rose, a cousin of Mary, Edith, and the late Sybil Crawley, becomes increasingly significant in the series after Sybil’s passing. She grows so close to the family that she names her daughter after Lady Grantham.

Lily James, who portrayed Rose, has seen her career soar since her time on Downton Abbey. She has notably starred in films such as Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Yesterday, Rebecca, and The Iron Claw.

Her portrayal of Pamela Anderson in the miniseries Pam & Tommy earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley

Dan Stevens portrayed Matthew Crawley, the lawyer and distant relative who unexpectedly becomes heir to the estate after the death of two family members, during his three-season tenure on Downton Abbey.

Similar to his character’s ambivalence about life in the castle, Stevens himself made the decision to depart from the show, citing a desire to explore different creative avenues. In a 2022 interview with The Guardian, Stevens explained his departure: “There were definitely creative itches left unscratched, genres I hadn’t worked in. Three years were up, that’s what we’d initially signed up for, and the appetite to explore further was too great.”

Since leaving Downton, Stevens has remained active in both film and television. His notable projects include the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, The Call of the Wild, and appearances on shows such as Legion and Gaslit.

Stevens has been married to musician Susie Hariet since 2009, and they have three children together.

Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore

Mrs. Patmore is the heart of the Downton Abbey cast. As the head cook, Mrs. Patmore’s domain is the kitchen, where she tirelessly frets over meals and gives orders to Daisy. Despite her gruff exterior, Mrs. Patmore has a heart of gold and has dedicated much of her life to serving the household. Downton Abbey simply wouldn’t be the same without her.

Lesley Nicol, who portrays Mrs. Patmore, revealed in the interview that the character wasn’t initially intended to be funny but evolved over time due to the chemistry between her and Sophie McShera’s Daisy. She recalled, “A rather angry, strict kind of busy woman in the kitchen. She was never intended to be funny.”

While Mrs. Patmore remains Nicol’s most memorable role, she has also delighted fans with her performances in various productions. Additionally, Nicol wrote a stage musical based on her life titled How the Hell Did I Get Here, which premiered in 2022.

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Preview photo credit Downton Abbey / Carnival Film & Television and co-producer, Invision / Invision / East News, Downton Abbey / Carnival Film & Television and co-producer, Vianney Le Caer / Invision / East News

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