‘Downton Abbey’ creator Julian Fellowes knows a good thing when he sees it, so it’s no surprise that he decided to cast Maria Doyle Kennedy as the star of his ‘Titanic’ miniseries.
Producers of the miniseries insisted that Fellowes refrain from cross casting actors from ‘Downton Abbey’ with the ‘Titanic’ series, but when the original actress set to play Muriel Batley had to drop out of the project, Kennedy was the perfect fit to step in. While speaking to Express UK, Maria revealed that filming in a giant water tank left her feeling ‘completely powerless.’ She said;
“That was very spooky. It was so huge it made you feel completely powerless. It made me think what a tiny speck in the universe I am and how uncontrollable the force of nature is.”
The ‘Downton Abbey’ actress is a big fan of Fellowes writing and says that he really knows how to bring the ‘class system’ to life. She said;
“One of the things he writes about very well is the class system. I had never known, for example, that the church services on board were mixed; that all the different social classes were allowed to attend. The first-class passengers were furious about that and everybody else was delighted because they were dying to get a look at what it was like up there on the top deck where they weren’t normally allowed.”
In ‘Downton Abbey’ Kennedy played Vera Bates, the confident, villainous wife of John Bates, so when it came to her role as Muriel, a middle class snob, she knew she was going to be able to take the role and run with it. She said;
“Playing a [expletive] is really great, to be honest; it’s the best character and the best dialogue. Vera was brilliant in Downton. And it was obvious there was a fairly scary history between her and Mr Bates. She certainly knew how to push his buttons immediately. If you’re in a modern-day piece and playing that kind of person, you would probably be shouting and roaring and it would be all high drama. But because it is a period piece, it’s so fabulously contained, you are quietly telling people you are going to do these terrible, terrible things to them before adding with a smile, ‘And isn’t this tea lovely?’ People would come up to me in the street and say, ‘You are terrible!’ but with a big grin on their faces. We all love someone to hate, don’t we?’”
You can check out ‘Titanic’ on Sundays airing on ITV1 at 9 p.m.