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One Reason Starring On Downton Abbey Was 'A Bit Distressing,' According To Dan Stevens

downton abbey screenshot dan stevens matthew crawley

Downton Abbey was the big break into pop culture for a number of the stars who hadn't yet made it into the spotlight on the American side of the pond, and Dan Stevens was a fan-favorite during his three seasons before Matthew Crawley's tragic death. Now, nearly ten years after Stevens left the show following the third season, the actor has explained why starring on such a hit show was actually somewhat distressing.

While it may be hard to believe considering that Downton Abbey is still very much a popular franchise with a second movie in the works, it premiered all the way back in 2010, when social media was a far cry from what it is today, and Maggie Smith was pretty much the only household name from the Downton cast for viewers in the United States. Speaking with The Guardian, Dan Stevens explained what was somewhat difficult about starring on the show in that particular time period:

It was one of the early shows that was popularly live-tweeted, and that was interesting and exciting, but also a bit distressing. Instead of the odd critic, writing about you in the Sunday papers, you had everyone coming out with really strong opinions about specific scenes or what she was wearing or what he was looking like.

Viewers live-tweeting and sharing their thoughts – often without much in the way of a filter – may be common nowadays, but it was still on the newer side of pop culture during Dan Stevens' time on Downton Abbey from 2010 - 2012. As fans will undoubtedly remember, Stevens' Matthew Crawley was killed off in the holiday special that followed Season 3, making it a much less merry Downton Christmas than the season before, when Matthew and Mary got engaged in a swirl of snowflakes.

And the fans weren't exactly thrilled about how Matthew was killed off, but based on Dan Stevens' comments, he also witnessed strong fan reactions to more minor elements of the series, like looks and outfits. That's not surprising from a lens of 2021, when Twitter is a popular platform for fans, celebrities, and even companies, but 2010 - 2012 was a very different time when it comes to online fandom. That said, Stevens also made it clear that it was "interesting and exciting" as well.

Plus, the Downton Abbey fans still haven't forgotten Dan Stevens or Matthew Crawley, despite how much time has passed and how much the story of Mary and the other Crawleys has shifted away from the events of those early years. While Stevens did make the decision to leave Downton, Matthew being killed off right after meeting his newborn son with Mary wasn't his call.

And Dan Stevens has gone on to find success in plenty of other projects, ranging from the live-action Beauty and the Beast opposite Emma Watson to FX's Legion on the opposite side of the fiction spectrum to the upcoming Gaslit, which Stevens joined to replace Armie Hammer earlier this year. He definitely hasn't just stuck to one genre, which may have been helped by the fact that there was no going back to Downton for Stevens in any significant way after being killed off.

If you want to relive Matthew Crawley's glory days on Downton Abbey before being killed off, you can find those first three seasons (as well as the final three before the first movie) streaming on Netflix now, as well as some other platforms.

Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.