A few years ago, ITV built an entire series around a changing world. That series was Downton Abbey, an early 20th century drama about the lives of people with wealth and those who lived belowstairs in the same household. One of the biggest draws of Downton Abbey was always the epic romance between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley... that is, until it wasn't. Recently, actor Dan Stevens, who played Matthew on the popular show, revealed why he is still apologizing for the way everything went down on Downton Abbey.

I'm still apologizing to people now. The way Matthew went was out of my hands -- but it was rather shocking. There were some very upset people and I've had to apologize to a lot of ­people over the past four years. But I take it as a compliment that Matthew was so loved on the show.

If you can remember back to just a few short years ago, you should know that news pretty well broke that Dan Stevens was leaving in advance of his departure. Still, it was extremely shocking when Downton Abbey killed the character off, in a car accident no less. This left Mary to run the estate and be a single mother and it killed off any chance that Dan Stevens could appear on the series down the line. Dan Stevens told The Mirror that even though four years have passed since the momentous TV moment, he's still having to apologize to people as the decision was extremely shocking for TV viewers.

dan stevens looking hot on downton abbey

Personally, I'm not sure what Downton Abbey could have really done but kill off Matthew Crawley. This was post-WWI Britain, but divorces were still uncommon, and totally not in keeping with where Mary and Matthew were at in their relationship. I suppose he could have taken a long business trip to India or some other faraway locale and simply been referenced on occasion, but really his death was the only thing that made sense and the only thing that could allow Lady Mary to move on and to eventually look into other suitors. Plus, adding mourning sequences certainly upped the drama for the few episodes after the Christmas special in which Matthew Crawley died.

Dan Stevens has gone on to have a pretty successful career after Downton Abbey. He's appeared in movies like The Fifth Estate, Night at the Museum 3 and the upcoming Beauty and the Beast film, where he plays the titular Beast. He's also broken into American TV as the star of the FX series Legion, so it's not as if leaving Downton Abbey totally halted his career. However, I think there's some feeling out there that he could have stuck with the show and then taken another TV series, as Michelle Dockery, who played Lady Mary, did with TNT's Good Behavior. Perhaps it's that feeling that has led Dan Stevens to continue apologizing for the way things went down, even if he wasn't the person who penned the scene that killed off his character.

You can catch Dan Stevens in Beauty and the Beast, out on March 17. (Learn more about the movie here.) To find out what else is headed to television, take a look at our midseason TV premiere schedule.

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