Downton Abbey - Dan Stevens

In stark contrast to the character of Matthew Crawley, Dan Stevens went straight from the set of Downton Abbey to Detroit to play Joey van Helsing in Vamps, alongside Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless). “I’m going to be filming in America when Downton goes out in the UK and I’ll be back in the UK when it airs in America so I’ll have to get hold of a DVD in order to watch it,” says Dan.

Dan & Hattie Morahan in
Sense & Sensibility

In the last few years Dan has stopped work only to become a husband and father. “My wife and 6 month old visited set, which was fun. Everyone loves a baby on set except for the sound department,” he laughs. Matthew Crawley is the third cousin of Lord Grantham. His father was a doctor, a fact that amazes Lord Grantham and offends the Dowager Countess. Matthew too has a profession. He works as a lawyer in Manchester and insists on continuing to work in Downton and run the estate at weekends.

I seem to be getting a lot of searches on my blog for Dan Stevens wife. I believe these are photos of Dan with her.

For Matthew and his mother Isobel (played by Penelope Wilton), moving to Downton and meeting their distant relatives is a daunting experience and at first Matthew tries hard to resist the trappings of aristocratic life. “It’s quite intimidating and very strange for him to be thrust into this position not to mention the resentment he encounters at the hands of relatives like Mary, who in any other circumstances would be set to inherit. So there’s resentment for being the heir apparent coming at him from all quarters both above and below stairs,’ explains Dan, ‘but running alongside this Julian has written a thread of romance into Matthew’s storyline, which bubbles away. This could be with Mary, Edith or even Sybil which makes it all very interesting.”

Downton represents the old guard for Matthew and Isobel Crawley. Theirs are far more liberal views than those shared by their cousins and Isobel in particular is matter of fact and prepared to roll her sleeves up and get on with things. “Penelope has been terrific fun to work with and it’s a sweet relationship we’ve developed between the two characters because they both cling to each other as they enter this strange world,’ observes Dan. “She’s very keen that he behaves properly but she also feels anxiety at the hands of Violet who behaves abominably towards her. So, they help each other along, they bicker a bit, but there is a sweet mother/son thing going on.”

Part of the package of becoming heir to Downton means that Matthew must also embrace the trappings of being an Earl in the making including, being waited on hand and foot and having a valet/butler to dress him and tend to his every need. Being used to serving his own tea and dressing himself, Matthew resists. “There’s this very sweet story with Molesley (played by Kevin Doyle), who is tasked with being my valet and butler but bless him, Matthew wants nothing to do with this element of aristocracy and is very resistant to having him around,” he says. “Matthew doesn’t treat him very well and is a bit embarrassed by him in the beginning. Eventually, with some help from his mother, he realises that for Molesley, this job is a question of pride and position and without it Molesley has no place in Downton. It’s all rather poignant.”

Dan as Lord Holmwood in Dracula, I haven't seen nor plan to see
that particular movie but liked how handsome he looks in his tux!

As for romance it becomes apparent that Matthew is being lined up by Lady Grantham, as husband material for her eldest daughter Mary, a fact that doesn’t pass Matthew by in episode two. “When Mary drops by to invite Isobel and Matthew to dinner she overhears a stubborn Matthew suggest that Lord and Lady Grantham will no doubt try and force one of their daughters on him. This completely riles Mary and she doesn’t try and hide the fact she’s heard him, which heralds the beginning of a tempestuous relationship between them.” Hot on the heels of her sister and not to be left out of any opportunity to find a husband, and rub her sister’s nose in it in the process, Edith does her best to win over Matthew by offering to show him the local churches of Downton.

Dan and Michelle Dockery, (Lady Mary), are old friends and having played opposite each other in the Henry James ghost story, Turn of the Screw, both actors were looking forward to renewing their on-screen partnership. “It was brilliant to see Michelle again,’ says Dan. “We’ve worked together before so it’s really nice to be doing some proper scenes with her. In Turn of the Screw, she looked a bit mad all the time, while I just did doctor type things like pacing around the room. So at least we have some really great scenes in this. We keep the audience guessing with a case of ‘does she love him, does he love her’, but I’m not telling you what happens,” laughs Dan.

Pack produced by Una Maguire and Victoria Brooks, Milk Publicity!
Photo credits: Nick Briggs, Victoria Brooks

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