Downton Abbey 2 Has A Title, Shares First Look At Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess Back To Her Delightful Barbs

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Downton Abbey 2 is coming in the spring of 2022. So far, we’ve seen some minor stuff from the set and the major players in the cast have been announced. However, what we didn’t know was the official title of the film, nor had we seen any footage from the actual upcoming movie. All that has changed now as CinemaCon 2021 revealed the first look at the return to the Abbey along with the official title. They're calling it: A New Era.

Focus Features closed its presentation with some inviting footage of the upcoming sequel, "cordially inviting" us "to be swept away by the worldwide phenomenon once again." Soon, we see major characters like Thomas Barrow (looking a little older than before). Shots of what is to come in A New Era are shown, as well. We see what looks to be a quick glimpse of a wedding, a boat trip for Lord and Lady Grantham, a shot of a delightful outdoor party and more. However, what’s really captivating is a short clip from a dinner scene featuring none other than Dame Maggie Smith. An actor is to dinner with the Crawley family, and the Dowager Countess is full of her usual barbs.

In a delightfully uncomfortable moment, Violet Crawley asks the actor, “Is there such a thing as good publicity?” A rather good question that must have come after an intriguing story, to which he responds, “There is if you’re in the movies.” But of course, the Dowager Countess always has a good retort, noting, “Oh what a colorful life you lead.” It's our first glimpse back into the world of the upstairs and downstairs, and it's exactly what I was hoping for.

Honestly, given the events in the Downton Abbey film, it’s reassuring to see Maggie Smith back for the new movie. If you've seen the original film that is a spinoff of the popular TV series of the same name, it ended on a touching but rather sad moment. There's a scene -- and spoilers if you still haven't caught the 2019 film -- between Lady Mary and her grandmother in which the Dowager Countess admits she's been seeing a doctor because she's been feeling ill. The movie left it that she might die soon, but here she is back for the sequel, very much alive and spirited with her usual wit. The family would not be the same without the Dowager Countess, though it's worth pointing out Maggie Smith has been saying the character is too old to keep playing for years.

They got her back for the last movie by convincing her everyone was doing it, with director Michael Engler telling CinemaBlend ahead of the first Downton Abbey movie:

That was Julian [Fellowes] and Gareth [Neame]. I think once everybody else was pretty much ready to go, I think she sort of thought ‘Call me when you’ve got a schedule, when it’s really happening’ and all that. And they pulled it together, and went to her, and said ‘Here’s the script. Everyone’s doing it, this is when it is.’ You know, I think she didn’t not want to be a part of it. I don’t think she needed to do it, more like that it was an unfinished business for her as an actor. But I think it was a group of people she really enjoyed working with over the years.

Now, she's back, but it's clear from the Downton Abbey: A New Era title that the times they are (still) a-changin. The title itself seemingly spawns from the Downton Abbey book The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era, which was published back in 2012 and features character profiles and information from Seasons 1-3 of the hit series. That book is still available to order, but if it's the film you are champing at the bit for, just you wait. There will most certainly be more where that came from.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.