With television in the States, if a show is popular enough, in many cases, although not always, the TV studios can renegotiate and spend more money on its leads in order to keep them around if a TV program really needs those characters. Apparently, the same is not true of a lot of UK television, at least as Julian Fellowes would put it. Read on to hear more from the prolific television creator, writer, and producer about Downton Abbey and the untimely departure of Matthew Crawley. Stop reading now if you aren’t caught up on the hit period drama. There will be spoilers, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.
During Downton Abbey’s brilliant Christmas episode, the show took a major twist around the time the lovely lady Mary was expecting her baby. The actor playing her husband, Dan Stevens, had chosen to leave the show and so the writers killed him off in a car crash during the episode. Fellowes recently told The Telegraph he believes killing off Matthew was the only plausible solution.
“Otherwise we would have had to make this tremendously successful love affair between Mary and Matthew unhappy, which I didn’t feel would be believable. For them to then separate and Matthew never set eyes on his son again would not be believable either.”
Stevens has said the decision was difficult for him, but that he ultimately felt now was the time to move away from the Downton Abbey universe and pursue other projects. Due to the importance of Matthew and Mary’s relationship, Fellowes says the show didn’t really have any option for the character other than to kill him off.
“If he had been prepared to come back for maybe two or three episodes in a series, that would be different. Then we could have had a foreign posting or invented a career that would have made it possible for him to be away.”
Unfortunately, the cookie did not crumble in a way that was satisfying for the writers or for fans of the show. Here’s hoping the decision Stevens has made to leave the show does open other doors for him in the acting realm. Otherwise, his premature demise in the series was quite the waste.
Downton Abbey’s Season 3 begins airing in the States on January 6, 2013.