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Downton Abbey 2 Star Elizabeth McGovern Says Filming The Movie Is Just Like The TV Series, And Has A Funny Take On Why

Elizabeth McGovern and Laura Carmichael lean on the railing of a ship in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
(Image credit: Focus Features LLC/Carnival)

Translating an experience like Downton Abbey from a hit TV series into a smash hit theatrical franchise isn’t easy. In some cases, big differences are required to make the world that worked on the small screen play properly at the movies. However, there are some things that stay the same, leading series stars like Elizabeth McGovern to make a funny remark about how filming a star studded motion picture like Downton Abbey 2 is just like the episodic filming process. 

One such thing that hasn’t changed, according to the humorous take McGovern gave to OK! Magazine (via The Daily Mail), is apparently the catering situation. One could not blame the woman we’ve come to know as Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham, for her initial reaction to the production of 2019’s Downton Abbey: The Movie. This is, after all, a big time Hollywood movie; and those sorts of productions are known for splashing out. As Elizabeth McGovern laid out her preconceptions, and how they were deconstructed, it turned out that making this particular movie was more business as usual than anything else: 

The funny thing is that it felt very similar. I thought the snacks on the [film] set would be better but no… they weren’t. We were in the same house, we were staying in the same little bed and breakfasts around [Highclere Castle].

Though the production process may not have changed in Downton Abbey’s leap between screens, the scope of the stories told be writer/creator Julian Fellowes is where the key differences seem to lie. We learned as much back in 2019, when director Michael Engler confirmed that moving into stories like a royal visit to Downton were the crucial ingredient in transferring to the movies

That formula is still in play, as Downton Abbey: A New Era is going to focus on the Dowager Countess’s mysterious past, with a trip to the south of France expanding the story into an international context. With that sort of action waiting in the wings, you can see how the finished product of Downton Abbey’s films would differ from that of the series. 

Just as fans noted how the scope and scale of that first installment grew to fit the franchise’s latest medium, Elizabeth McGovern picked up on the differences in the finished product. Further surprised by the entire endeavor, she capped off her thoughts on the matter thusly: 

The film looked and felt so much bigger, expansive and more ambitious than the TV show, but the actual act of shooting it really feels the same. You are still having to hit your marks and say your lines. So that was kind of surprising to me.

Overall, the results of the Downton Abbey cinematic franchise so far have been a sterling example of properly transitioning a television show into a theatrical event. Smashing the box office records with the best opening Focus Features ever had, the first film banked a huge windfall that almost ensured a sequel was bound to happen. Gradually expanding the scope of Downton, there's no rush turn this dramatic saga into a guns-blazing cinematic spectacle.  

Though it seems the production process more than likely stayed the same for the second feature film adaptation, one could hope that the snack situation was upgraded along with the inclusion of exotic locales. We'll just have to wait and see if the subject comes up during the future press blitz for this new adventure, as now everyone is probably curious what Elizabeth McGovern's thoughts are after this latest round. 

In case you somehow still think Downton Abbey: A New Era is hitting theaters this Friday, the most recent delay has pushed the film into a later release window than expected. UK audiences will get to see the next chapter of the Crawley family legacy debut on April 29th, while US fans are set for a May 20th release date on the domestic front. For further updates on the new movie releases of 2022, the full rundown is available to answer all those burning questions you may have. 

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