For several months now, fans of “Downton Abbey” all around the world were all asking the same exact question: is Dan Stevens going to leave prior to the start of season 4? He never had inked a contract for the new year, and he also had never really openly talked about his future on the show … at least until now. (Of course, a warning now to all of our American viewers: if you want to remain absolutely spoiler-free when it comes to what happened during the Christmas special airing on Tuesday, you really want to stop reading now.)
With the death of Stevens’ character of Matthew during the closing minutes of the episode, it became clear that we were not going to be seeing the actor return for another go-around in the future. What was not clear at that very moment, however, was just how far along this move was planned in advance. However, the actor confirmed during a new interview with the Daily Telegraph that he did indeed make the decision to step down from the hit show during the start of production for the new season, and he explained that his motivations were in terms of his career rather than a desire for more money or notoriety:
“We were always optioned for three years … And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.
“It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”
There are no official contracts at the moment for either Maggie Smith or Michelle Dockery, but the end of their storylines during the Christmas special strongly suggests that we will see both Violet and Mary back in full capacity next season. It’s possible that season 4 could be the end for the show depending on the desire of everyone else to do something else, but we will find out more about that subject soon.
What do you think about some of Stevens comments, and is it smart of right for him to leave a show that is so popular? If you want to go back and read our full review of the Christmas special (which was really excellent, as sad as the ending was), you can do so over at the link here.