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With Downton Abbey: A New Era gliding into theaters this month, we're shining a spotlight on Jim Carter, the charming actor who plays pernickety butler Mr. Carson. Here are 10 things you may not know about this true gent of a performer.
1. He studied law at university, though acting was always his calling.
Carter told WhatsOnStage that he "lasted two years" at Sussex University in Southern England, before dropping out to work in fringe theater. There's no doubt his decision paid off in the long run.
2. For a time, he moonlighted as a magician.
Though Carter has said he's "never earned a penny from doing anything apart from acting," he definitely didn't limit himself to one kind of performance early in his career. "I taught magic and juggling and I'd go out busking or doing my magic act on the cabaret circuit," he told WhatsOnStage. "When I was at the Young Vic [theater] earning £65 a week, I could go to Jongleurs [cabaret club] and earn £75 for doing a bit of an act, so I've always worked, whether creating my own or working for others."
3. In many ways, he is pretty similar to his Downton Abbey character.
Carter's wife Imelda Staunton told Town and Country that it's "no accident" her husband was cast as Mr. Carson because he's just as "honorable" as the character. Meanwhile, Carter himself said he shares the character's values, adding: "I do believe in behaving correctly and properly. I believe in good manners and politeness, and that you should have respect. I think there is a value in that."
4. He is an avid cricket fan.
Carter is a former chairman of Hampstead Cricket Club, his local team in North London. In the charming video below, you can watch him talk about his love of cricket while having afternoon tea at Lord's, one of the U.K.'s most iconic cricket venues.
5. He is also a keen cyclist.
Over the years, Carter has taken part in various charity cycle rides. He told The Daily Telegraph that the most remote cycle ride he's completed was an "off-road" trek across Jordan's Wadi Rum desert. "We visited Mount Nebo and then, after Petra, rode down towards Roberts Rock and the Red Sea," he added.
6. At 73, he takes a sanguine approach to getting older.
Most of the time, anyways. Carter told Saga magazine recently: "Physically I don't suffer from any ailments and I feel I'm quite sprightly until I pass a plate-glass window and see my reflection and think, 'Oh God!' Though we actors always see our aging process on screen, it shows up angles of yourself you don’t normally see."
7. He and Staunton met in 1982 while performing in Guys and Dolls at London's National Theatre.
You can watch them reminiscing about the production in this extensive video interview.
8. He believes the secret to his happy marriage is the fact it's a meeting of equals.
Carter told Saga magazine that he is "head gardener" at their North London home, while Staunton is "head chef."
"It can be hard for actors when all the attention is on someone else. I think men can struggle more than women if they're not working as much as their partner," he added. "Some men do become amazing full-time fathers, it can be a very rewarding role, but Imelda and I have never really had that situation. We've always worked about as much as each other – our life has allowed us to share everything equally, which has been brilliant."
You can catch a glimpse of their playful relationship in this lovely clip from The Graham Norton Show.
9. Their daughter Bessie Carter is also an actress.
You may know her as Prudence Featherington in Bridgerton.
10. But before you ask, he's ruled out ever appearing in Bridgerton himself.
As the Belfast Telegraph reports, Carter broached this tricky issue during a recent interview, saying: "Do you think I would be disloyal to Downton Abbey? My goodness, no. It is far too raunchy for Carson, is Bridgerton. Can you imagine Carson in Bridgerton? Or Jim Carter even?"
Well said, Jim Carter!
Do you have a favorite Jim Carter role?