Shirley Maclaine shook things up a bit at Downton last season, and it sounds like one of Season 4's newest newcomers will do the same as well. American actor Paul Giamatti is set to join the series as a close relative to Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and her family, and word is, he and MacLaine's returning character Martha will "upset the Grantham apple cart." Knowing Giamatti, who's a gifted actor at both comedy and drama, it's not impossible to picture that, especially when bringing MacLaine into the picture.
TVLine reports that Giamatti is joining Downton Abbey for Season 4, playing the role of Harold Levinson, Cora's brother and the uncle to Mary and Edith. He's set to appear alongside Shirley MacLaine, who's returning to the role of Cora and Harold's mother. As much as I'm hoping for some more biting interactions between Martha and Maggie Smith's Violet Crawley, I'm now just as eager to see how the Dowager Countess takes to Giamatti's character, and how he takes to her. There's definite potential for some great moments between those two, especially considering Executive producer Gareth Neame describes Giamatti's character as "free-spirited." That could clash drastically with Crawley's more buttoned-up view of the world.
Giamatti isn't the only newcomer to board Downton Abbey for Season 4. Among the other newcomers to appear in the series is Dame Harriet Walters, who's playing an old friend of Dowager, Nigle Harman, who's playing a visiting valet named Green, and Tom Cullen, who's a new love interest to the recently widowed Mary.
Giamatti's probably better known for his feature work, which goes back to the 90s, with roles in Past Midnight, Singles and Mighty Aphrodite among his earliest credits. He went on to play parts in Donnie Brasco, Private Parts and Saving Private Ryan. But he didn't start earning himself award nominations and wins until after 2000, when he scored an Oscar Nom for Cinderella Man and later won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his portrayal of the title role in HBO's miniseries John Adams. WIth that in mind, it's especially exciting to hear that he's coming back to television for a role on Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey fans across the pond have only a few months to wait for the series to return for Season 4 on ITV. While it premieres in September in the U.K., the Julian Fellowes-created drama won't make its U.S. debut on PBS until January 2014.
Here's a look at some of the swear-filled highlights of the 2004 dramedy Sideways, which has Giamatti showing of this temper. Contains strong language, so consider that your NSFW warning.