‘Downton’ Roundup: The Abbey’s Dan Stevens Hits Broadway

Actor Dan Stevens in New York (Walter McBride, Corbis/AP Images)

There’s lots going on at Downton Abbey as the popular period drama’s third season plays out on British TV – but you won’t hear about it here. Anglophenia tries hard to be a spoiler-free zone.

Americans stuck here in the U.S. have to wait until January to see the third season on PBS’s Masterpiece. But to help tide stateside fans over until then, here are several Downton-related news items:

• Dan Stevens, the blue-eyed dreamboat who plays Matthew Crawley on the show, made his Broadway debut over the weekend when preview performances started for The Heiress. The play is based on a novel by 19th century author Henry James. Stevens portrays the suitor courting a young, plain-looking heiress (played by Jessica Chastain), though his motivation for wooing her is open to question.

In an interview with Time Out New York, Stevens said that he and his wife, infant son and 3-year-old daughter, were having fun in the Big Apple.

“It’s a city I’ve always wanted to spend some proper time in,” he said. “We’ve been enjoying the park and the Museum of Natural History, finding the good kids’ stuff to explore. [Daughter] Willow’s very excited by New York—yellow taxis and 
things like that.”

Stevens said he’s finding that Downton fans frequently recognize him.

“It’s almost bigger here than it is back home,” he said. “They really love it here.”

The show has a limited run through Feb. 10. Tickets are priced between $50 and $255.

• Thomas Howes, the actor who played William Mason, the footman who wed maid Daisy on his deathbed and then expired in Downton’s second season, told the British newspaper The Sun that he would love to play the Doctor in the popular TV series Doctor Who.

“There are a lot of dream roles I’d love, like James Bond and Indiana Jones. But I’d never get a look in there,” he said. “Doctor Who [sic] is probably the only one that I could play because he’s quite quirky – and he regenerates, so he can be anyone.  So one day, who knows, I might have a chance. I’d love to play that part.”

He said he was sorry about Thomas being killed off, but added that the role had brought him attention and, “They paid me for the whole of the second series – even though I was only in five out of the eight episodes.”

• Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora Crawley on Downton, continues to pursue her second career as a singer with her band, Sadie and the Hotheads.  The group is releasing a new, 12-track album, How Not To Lose Things, on October 29, and have been booked for four weekly shows, beginning Nov. 6, at The Troubadour, a coffee house and performance venue in London’s Earls Court district. Tickets are £6 ($9.68).

McGovern had high praise for her colleagues on the project.

“They create magic out of thin air,” she said in a statement about the album. “Time and time again, on whatever drafty stage or pub we happened to be in.”

• Laura Carmichael, who portrays Lady Edith Crawley on the show, begins appearing in a West End production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya on Oct. 25. Her co-stars include Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) and Samuel West. Treading the boards with the latter has Carmichael particularly excited because, as a girl, she was a huge fan when West starred in the 1989 Narnia-derived TV series, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

“I’m pinching myself now because I’m about to share the stage with him. You want to go back in time and whisper in the ear of your 10-year-old self: ‘One day you’ll end up doing a play with Prince Caspian’,” she told Radio Times magazine. “The producer asked me if I thought it would be easy to be in love with Sam West, how I blushed.”

Of her Downton character’s hapless love life, she said, “The great thing about Edith not having a long-running romance is I get so many fellows. I get to meet great actors and show off my beaus at the wrap party. Humiliation and heartache for Edith, but quite fun for me!”

• Make of this what you will, but Rebecca Eaton, the executive producer of PBS’ Masterpiece program since 1985 and the person most responsible for bringing Downton to American TV screens, told Variety, “The British are easier to deal with than the Americans. There are fewer tantrums and less posturing. But the British can be deeply evasive.”