No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, the Downton Abbey movie is an actual thing and it will be in cinemas very soon.
The big-screen outing for the ITV series was officially confirmed in July 2018 after what felt like endless rumours, with one of the biggest issues preventing a movie involving getting all the cast back together.
They managed it though and the movie, written by creator Julian Fellowes, is almost here. But what do you need to know about it before its release? We’re glad you asked.
Downton Abbey movie trailer: Watch it here!
Following the end of filming, the first teaser was released for Downton Abbey, although there wasn’t really much footage in there to analyse.
A proper trailer was shown at CinemaCon in March, showing that the movie will see actual royalty arrive on the fictional Yorkshire Estate in the form of King George V and Queen Mary. That first trailer arrived on May 21.
Downton Abbey movie cast: Who’s coming back?
All of the original cast will be returning for the big-screen outing, including Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley.
Perhaps more surprising is that Maggie Smith is set to return as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, given that she’s previously said a movie could be “squeezing it dry” – although maybe her theory will come true.
“I was firmly convinced it would start with the funeral [of Violet]. I thought it would be a bit like that. I could croak it. It would just start with the body. But I don’t know,” she said in April 2017.
Matthew Goode will also be popping up as Henry Talbot, but don’t expect to see too much of him sadly. “I’m just popping in at the end, which is a nice way to do it,” he explained, later adding: “It’s a brilliant story, the cast has gotten bigger, there’s great new faces.”
The movie will be missing one major name though as Lily James has confirmed she won’t be back as Lady Rose MacClare, and it’s not because of her schedule. “I’m sadly not, but I’m so excited for it — I’m going to be front row,” she explained, adding that the reason “wasn’t schedules”.
“My character Rose moved off to New York, so it would be farfetched to bring her back,” she explained. “I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can’t be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline. There was no space for Rose.”
Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes later said that the return of James wasn’t possible as she’s a massive star these days.
“It would’ve been incredibly difficult for her to find time in her schedule to come and play essentially a supporting role in Downton when her career was in a different place when she was with us,” he noted.
One former Downton star who is angling for a return is Robert Bathurst, who played Sir Anthony Strallan. “I disappeared from ‘Downton Land’ in series three. Off he went. He left Edith at the altar never to be seen again. The rat should come back!” he joked.
Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Philips and Stephen Campbell Moore have all joined the cast of the movie, but their characters are not yet known.
The Royals star Max Brown will also star in the movie in an undisclosed role (via Deadline).
And spare a thought for Sue Johnston who was all set for a return as Gladys Denker, only for her role to be cut. Awkward.
Downton Abbey movie release date: When can we expect it?
As filming got underway, a confirmed release date was announced of September 13, 2019 in the UK, with a US release a week later on September 20, 2019.
The later release could be an indication that the producers are confident enough in the movie to position it for awards, given it will come out just as awards season starts to kick in.
Downton Abbey movie plot: What will it be about?
The final-ever episode saw Edith get married to Bertie, Mary reveal that she was pregnant with her second child (while Anna gave birth to her first), Henry and Tom go into business together selling cars and Carson resigning as butler because of his illness.
Thanks to the trailer, we know the movie will mainly focus around a royal visit.
Returning star Allen Leech has confirmed that the movie “picks up not too long after the series ended”. “So, time-wise, I think we’re eight or nine months after,” he explained. “The only problem is all the actors are now three years older – it was a pretty heavy eight months!”
“It’s rare that you get a scene with everybody in it, because usually there’s upstairs and there’s downstairs,” he explained. “But I think we’ve got some scenes with everybody. So that’ll be nice.”
As for Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary, the film will see her having “matured” following the news that she was expecting a baby in the series finale, while Mary’s sister Edith is just learning to adapt to married life with Bertie.
For any Tom Branson fans out there, Allen Leech has promised that the movie gives his character the “ending he deserved”.
“Julian (Fellowes, showrunner) has given Tom such a lovely storyline that it does feel that, if this is when we finally say goodbye, this is the way to say it,” he enthused.
Froggatt is keeping quiet about the plot, but has promised that the movie would feature “romance, fun, surprises, sadness and intrigue”, adding that it’s everything fans would want “but elevated”.
“Anna is in a really good place. She and Mr Bates have a baby boy, now 18 months old. She is passionate about helping Lady Mary with the running of Downton, about keeping the legacy going,” she said of her character.
Downton Abbey will be released in UK cinemas on September 13 and US cinemas on September 20.