Find out more about the man who courts Lady Mary Crawley...
Iain Glen plays Sir Richard Carlisle, a wealthy newspaper tycoon.
A wonderfully versatile actor who has previously starred in such diverse dramas as Wives and Daughters, Spooks, Doctor Who and The Diary of Anne Frank, Iain starts by describing his character: “He is an inordinately wealthy newspaper proprietor with the power to make or break reputations. He finds himself in the enviable position of being the latest suitor to Mary. Mary’s family are initially wary of his new money. But he is determined to belong there and do what he needs to become part of that family. She represents a world that he feels he should be part of.”
So does he really love Mary, one of the most popular characters from the first series? “Yes,” replies Iain. “He nurses a genuine love for Mary. In her, he sees an independent woman with great spark and intelligence, rucking up against the expectations of women from her class. He is willing to give Mary her head.”
“The third person” in the relationship between Richard and Mary is, of course, her ex, Matthew. He represents a potential spanner in the works for Richard. Iain says that, “It’s complicated, because Mary harbours an unfulfilled passion for Matthew which will never go away. Richard gets to know about that and feels threatened and wants to exorcise it from her. That is one of the threads of this series, and it comes between them.”
Iain continues that in many ways Richard and Mary are very well suited. “At this point, we don’t know whether they will get together, but any future marriage would have genuine passion. Richard cannot be dismissed. They’re both independent, forceful, tough people. Their relationship is hot, not sexless. They are suited to each other, but also fiery. There would be many an argument along the way. It could go either way!”
The actor has relished working with Michelle Dockery who plays Mary. “She’s a wonderful person. She’s great fun. We have a real laugh together – were both great gigglers. It sounds like a paradox, but when the writing is very good, you become really dependent on the other actors to realise a scene. “Michelle and I talked a lot about our screen relationship – I really value her opinion. She’s a marvellous actress. You might think that she is tailor-made for the role of Mary, but she isn’t. She’s just made it seem that way.” The actor believes that viewers have been so drawn to Downton Abbey because of its marvellous subtlety. “The first series struck such a chord because we live in a world where so much of public life is revealed. Everything in modern life is so stated, not hidden.
“We now live in a much more morally compromised world with far fewer absolutes. Period drama such as Downton Abbey investigates a subtler world where people’s moral dilemmas seem so much more nuanced than now. In that world people wrestled with quieter issues. We look back on it and think that it was a better, often kinder place to be.” He adds, “In those days, characters struggled with whether they could express their love for someone. Nowadays we live in a world where you don’t think twice before jumping into bed with someone. We’re bombarded with images and everything is on display. So we like to go back to a world where things were not shown. Period drama is about what is not said and what is under the surface. Viewers have to work harder but they like that responsibility. Period drama like Downton Abbey really satisfies audiences.”
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