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Downton Abbey 3? Why Yes, The Cast Already Has Some Great Story Ideas

The world of Downton Abbey is not set in stone, as writer/creator Julian Fellowes never knows when he’ll next revisit the saga of the Crawley family. That’s not to say there aren’t ideas that aren’t already on display with the conclusion of an upcoming movie like A New Era; but rather there’s nothing he’s committed to just yet. The cast of his iconic TV, and now cinematic hit, aren’t as reserved however; and if Downton Abbey 3 happens, they’ve got some clever ideas where the action could go next. 

During my conversations with the Downton Abbey cast, talk was bound to turn to just what could be in store after A New Era’s exploits. Strangely enough, the suggestions for new adventures seem to be split between the upstairs and downstairs casts; which is fitting as the stories for those players take a huge split in director Simon Curtis’ currently playing entry. 

In the case of the future for characters like Allen Leech’s Tom Branson and Laura Carmichael’s Edith Pelham, a trip to America sounds like it’s been discussed. Filling in the details as he spoke with CinemaBlend, Leech laid out a very specific historical event that could be used for the next Downton excursion: 

In relation to the whole idea/plot, we’ve been talking about this. We love the idea of Downton coming to New York, just before the crash of Wall Street. To come visit Shirley MacLaine’s character, let’s go see Cora’s family.

As the events of Downton Abbey: A New Era take place in 1928, we’re just on the cusp of that fateful day in American history which take place just one year later. The Crawleys themselves have experience with some failed financial dealings in the history of the ITV series, so Robert (Hugh Bonneville) in particular could help Martha Levinson, mother of his beloved wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), recover from any fallout she may experience.

Meanwhile, the downstairs staff of Downton Abbey are ready to take their own holiday in the sun. Shifting to the discussion that came from my interview with Phyllis Logan and Joanne Froggatt, Ellie Carson and Anna Bates respectively, a trip to the Maldives was thrown into the hat. That concept sounded rather familiar to me, and as it turns out, that was with good reason.

Flashing back to 2019, I had previously interviewed Phyilis Logan alongside on-screen husband Jim Carter, and the question of the potential story for Downton Abbey: A New Era had come up in that very room. Carter and Logan gamely suggested exactly what Joanna Froggatt cast into the air: a trip to the Maldives for the Carsons. While half of the iconic pair got their wish in this second cinematic outing, Logan and Froggatt pitched another possibility involving tropical paradise:

Phyllis Logan: It’s a no-brainer. We’ve all got to move the castle there.

Joanne Froggatt: Absolutely. “

Two possible tracks lie ahead for the next Downton adventure, but again it’s up to Julian Fellowes to make the call to return. Writing and creating new adventures for the Crawleys and their household staff is done on a case by case basis, and the man himself said as much in an interview with THR. If you’ve ever wanted to know why Downton Abbey stories take a while to get off the ground, here’s how Fellowes explains part of the follow-up process: 

Well, my life is much more random than you seem to express there. I never know what’s coming on Tuesday, never mind in 10 years’ time! But I think, inevitably, you think if we are to go on with these people, with this situation, with this house, whatever it is, how would we do it? And there are lots of different choices. There are lots of different directions. The thing about characters is when you’ve gone on with them so long, it’s like annotating a real life because lives go on a long time. And when you meet friends you haven’t seen for two or three years, as we are all doing at the moment because of COVID, your first thing is to ask, “Is your mother still with us? Did your daughter marry that man? What happened with the job? Did the house work out?” There’s all this stuff to catch up on because, really, all you’ve done is the odd telephone call or a Christmas card for two and a half years. So there’s no reason to believe there’s a natural, finite moment with these things. As long as there’s an audience, there’s certainly something to say.

Whatever the road ahead entails, should Downton Abbey 3 actually happen, then there’s certainly no shortage of ideas. Though, as Julian Fellowes has implied he’s keen to stay away from World War II, the next steps in the legacy of Downton will have to be very carefully measured. So long as loyal fans have an appetite for societal drama, joy, and heartbreak, Fellowes and his beloved cast will be there for the ride. 

Downton Abbey: A New Era has officially begun its run in theaters, promising a weekend of laughter and tears for all who partake. Peacock Plus subscribers can keep the party going at home, as the previous film and the entire series of Downton Abbey call that platform home.

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.