And yes, Maggie Smith does reprise her role as the Dowager Countess.
At last! The world has been waiting for Downton Abbey movie details since the beloved period drama aired its final episode back in March 2016. While last week’s trailer re-acquainted audiences with that magical Downton Abbey ambiance, it did not offer much in the way of story line.
Fortunately, Entertainment Weekly has a few exclusive images and clues about the film. We’ve compiled the five most significant takeaways below.
The Crawleys Convene Back at Downton Abbey for a “Grand, Mysterious Event”
The only additional information provided about said mystery event is that it is so large in scale that Carson actually comes out of palsy-induced retirement. The film takes place in the fall of 1927—more than a year and a half after the events depicted in the series finale. Downton Abbey director Michael Engler teased, “When this event happens and all hands are needed on deck, [Carson’s] called into service, and he becomes part of the success of the story.”
Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess Is Back—And Better Than Ever
But maybe all that was just a clever negotiating tactic! Because the Dowager is alive and well in a new photo from the film. She looks resplendent in a plum-colored gown (with a less constricting drop waist), coordinated hat and plume, and walking stick. Edith (Laura Carmichael) is escorting her grandmother outside—maybe to throw those old corsets in a bonfire and be done with them once and for all.
Engler promised that the Dowager Countess will be just as dry and quippy in the spin-off as she was in the series. “She feels very much the same in this. She represents the oldest of the old guard,” Engler told Entertainment Weekly. “She has a beautiful line in the film where she says to Mary, ‘One must have standards, but one must not be inflexible.’ That’s what she’s always stood for.”
Downton Abbey Seems to Be Doing Well Enough
Remember all of that talk of crumbling estate finances and the need to sack staff members? Well, it looks as though the estate, now run by Lady Mary, is being managed just fine in the movie. (That, or else Hugh Bonneville’s Lord Grantham lucked into some lottery winnings.) One gorgeous photo shows Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her race-car driver husband, Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode)—he’s still in the picture!—dancing in all their black-tie glory at some sort of ball. She’s upgraded her hairdo to a chic bob, and is wearing a silver sleeveless gown, tiara, and long black gloves. He wears a tuxedo tailcoat and a smile that says, “This marriage is stable and devoid of financial stress.”
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Dockery confirmed that Mary is killing the estate-management game. “She’s embraced her responsibility much more now as she’s matured,” the actress explained. “As much as Mary is very independent, her loyalty always remains with Downton . . . There’s a sense of Mary holding it all together.”
Edith Is Still Happy, Too
The period drama spent six seasons putting Edith, the middle Crawley sister, through all manners of personal misery. Finally, during the series finale, she found happiness, and something even better: a husband who outranks her sister Mary. A new photo shows that Mary, her husband Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton), and daughter, Marigold, are every bit the happy 1920s family—returning home to Downton Abbey in a flashy new car.
“The two of them are adapting to being a married couple, and to her being a lady of one of these great houses,” Engler said, teasing that Edith might run into some difficulty adapting to her new rank as a marchioness. “It brings with it much more responsibility and protocol than she was raised with at Downton . . . On one level, they’re these modern people in their training and expectations, but then, they are in the roles of these very elevated, cultural positions.”
Dockery also confirmed that Mary and Edith will still be verbally sparring when the film picks up: “They’re adults now, so there’s certainly an element of softening between them. But there’s still some fun moments, definitely.”
Things Are Finally Working Out in Tom’s Favor
Being one of the estate’s last bachelors, it also seems as though Tom might have the best chance of getting a romantic story line. “Given the fact that he is one of the only ones left who hasn’t found love, one would hope and assume there is an opportunity for him to have an iota of a chance at finding something,” said Leech.
Downton Abbey, written by series creator__Julian Fellowes,__ returns to screens on September 20, 2019.