Michelle Dockery Explains How Our Real-Life Obsession With The Royal Family Helped Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey movie cast, including royals George V and Queen Mary
(Image credit: (Focus Features))

Ever since the once wild-child Prince Harry announced he’d settle down with Suits star Meghan Markle, “royal fever” has been infectious. There’s always been a particular interest in keeping up with lavish British royalty, but now it’s at an all-time high. Between the buzz from Netflix’s The Crown and the box office hit Downton Abbey has become, Michelle Dockery thinks it’s all worked to the benefit of the show’s recent big screen debut.

The actress, made famous for her role as Lady Mary Talbot on British television’s phenomenon Downton Abbey, said this:

I think for a while, even since Kate [Middleton] and [Prince] William were married and Downton was sort of starting at that time, it certainly creates more of a fascination with it. And I think Americans, of course, have always had a love of all things British and the royals, so I think bringing those two things together — the Crawley family with the royals — was a brilliant idea, and I think it really works.

That's interesting. As Michelle Dockery points out, when the original television series first started in January 2011, it did coincide with Prince Williams and Kate Middleton’s recent engagement a few months earlier. Dockery told Variety she thinks Downton Abbey benefited from the added attention placed on the royals, just as the movie is now getting an interest boost with the help of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

In the first movie based on the six-season series, King George V and Queen Mary come to visit the Crawley family. While the Downton Abbey movie was made on a relatively small production budget, director Michael Engler said the most expensive investment was in showcasing the British Royal Parade in the movie. The Queen’s actual Royal Troop was brought to the Downton Abbey set for three days.

Let’s not attribute all of Downton Abbey’s success on the Royal family. The beloved show has accumulated a devoted fan base over the years, who most certainly went out to see the movie following the show’s ending back in 2015. Television-to-big screen movies are not commonplace events, but when they happen with a series as culturally prevalent as Downton was, it should be no surprise that it's been successful.

Downton Abbey astonished at the box office its opening weekend when it topped other new releases (Brad Pitt-led Ad Astra and Rambo: Last Blood) for a $31 million debut. Since the film has made $113 million ahead of its third weekend in theaters. Last week, it only dropped down to No. 2, but will undoubtedly be outshined by Joker’s release.

On top of that, Downton Abbey has consistently impressed both critics and audiences. The movie managed an incredible 84% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes critic score and 94% Audience score. What a huge win!

Have you seen Downton Abbey in theaters yet? Do you think your interest in the Royals drew you to the new movie or television show? Let us know in the comments below!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.