Home Television Downton Tragedy: Will Dan Stevens Be George Clooney or David Caruso?

WITH SPOILERS: By now, most fans of “Downton Abbey” in the US know what the Brits learned on Christmas Day: Matthew Crawley is most sincerely dead. After seeing his newborn son, Matthew died in automobile accident, on camera, blood pouring out of his head. Series creator Julian Fellowes and the producers took out their most decided unhappiness about actor Dan Stevens leaving them after three seasons. Stevens as much as told us this at the Broadway premiere of “The Heiress” when his rude publicist almost tackled me to get him away.

Stevens had been giving interviews saying he’d brought his family to America and was looking forward to sticking around. He’s walked away from the best show on television on two continents and massive popularity. So what now? Will he follow in the footsteps of George Clooney and make a successful transition to movies? Or will Stevens become the British equivalent of David Caruso, who spurned “NYPD Blue” years ago for a movie career that fizzled immediately? It’s hard to say. Remember Clooney stuck with “ER” for several years before making that full time jump. It was Caruso who left “NYPD Blue” right away.

Stevens might very well have stuck it out for two more seasons of “Downton.” After all, the show only produces a handful of episodes per season–it’s not like he was required to make 22 episodes. And he squandered the good will of fans he was courting for future work.

Mary (Michelle Dockery) won’t be alone for along. Fellowes is already casting for a new love interest, not a husband, but an intermediary fellow. And it wouldn’ surprise anyone if the fifth season endgame brings Mary together with her brother-in-law, Tom Branson, the former chauffeur.

Meanwhile, “Downton” ends season three on a high note otherwise. The double episode was of the highest quality, beautifully shot in Scotland. It resolved many plot points and character interactions in case Fellowes wants to make other changes for Season Four. For one thing, Rose will be back–she’s to this series what Georgina (Lesley Anne Down) was to the original “Upstairs Downstairs.” And you might surmise that Jimmy, the footman, may be gone as his purpose has been fulfilled. The addition of Charles Edwards as Edith’s complicated suitor is perfect, though.

“Downton” advanced one year with this double episode–it may be 1922 or 1923 when the return. It will be the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, Paris in the 20s– lots of material for Fellowes to have fun with. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too modern. Just as Branson once told Sybil he had “mitral valve prolapse” long before it was invented, tonight he offered a few other modern idea–like a “learning curve”– that wasn’t really introduced into the mainstream language until the 1930s. But that’s Branson– always ahead of his time.


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25 replies to this post
  1. I loved Matthew’s smile! And his tenderness. And his gentlemanly ways. And I was devastated by his death. But, for God’s sake, Matthew was only a fictitious character! The man is Dan not Matthew. Why mix things up and start bullying human beings for their priorities in their own lives? He’s not the first actor who resented being stuck in a role, or carrying a label on his forehead.
    I wish him well! Hope to see him soon in another production!

  2. Matthew could still be resuscitated – he only looks dead in that brief glimpse. I think he could magically be rescued if Dan were to change his mind. Keeping my fingers crossed for a happier outcome for Mary and her baby. Never say die and all that stiff upper lip stuff, guys.

  3. He and Mary jumped the shark at the end of Season Two – their stilted conversations bored me to tears. Bye bye – my guess is after the first ten minutes no one will remember your Matthew Crawley character. Liked his mother WAY better – at least she seemed real.

  4. Now that Mary has had a baby and she and Matthew are happy there really wasn’t much further for that plotline to go. Once they finally got together at the end of season two I wasn’t too sure where the writers could go from there, but I think in the end it’s more interesting (though unfortunate) for Matthew to be killed off. Though the episodes may seem too few and far between to viewers, it’s actually a huge time commitment for the actors and after 3 seasons I think it’s totally reasonable for an in-demand actor to seek out other projects. He’s still fairly young and attractive and I’m sure he’ll have no trouble getting work.

  5. Forgot to add that DA is the most watched TV series in the world-its in China now too.. so I think Dan was INSANE to leave. However, as much as I love DA, I wish Julian Fellowes would have just ended it with Matthew driving happily back to DA, before that horrific accident. DA is “Jumping the Shark.” The Bates in jail plot was boring, Rose is NO Georgina, Alfred is DULL DULL DULL, and Edith’s Editor is old and ugly! Why didn’t they give her a gorgeous man who was much younger? He’s worse than Sir Anthony! I don’t want to see Mary with ANY man period. Branson is NOT going to hook up with Mary! She’s like 4 inches taller than that actor, and their children would be first cousins, gross! Branson won’t hook up with Edith or Rose either.

  6. HUGE DA fan from the beginning. I thought Dan’s acting was great in Season 1 and 2. He looked bloated and tired in Season 3 (yes he was reading 140 books and his real wife had a baby), and at times, his acting was really bad (Sybil’s bedpost, arguing with Mary..rubbing his forehead). Dan is handsome, stunning blue eyes, but he looks far older than 30, which will hurt him in the movies. He needs to lose weight… at least 30 pounds. He looked gorgeous when he proposed in the snow to Mary. His neck is too fat. all. He also has made American fans VERY ANGRY, has ruined DA, and this will hurt his career in America greatly I predict.

  7. It’s fascinating how quick we are to decide what others should and shouldn’t be doing with their lives. Matthew’s fate certainly lends a vital clue as to why Mr. Stevens’ decision to continue pursuing his destiny, whatever it may be, makes sense.

  8. I haven’t even watched the final episode. My daughter told me what happened and I just can’t. Matthew Crawley was my favorite character from the beginning, so handsome, and those eyes….. Unbelievable what has happened. It reminds me of Julian Ovendon in Foyle’s War. He left to come to America and hasn’t been heard from again. Stevens must be mad to give up a place in the most popular show in the world for the crap filmed here in America. The Brits really know how to make a great story. This is almost as bad as Arthur Conan Doyle throwing Sherlock Holmes over the falls. Can we hope for such a resuscitation?

  9. It is not a crime to leave a show. I will continue to support him whatever he does. And it needn’t be acting. Dan happens to be multi-talented. I most certainly couldn’t continue with something if I didn’t want to do it anymore. I’m a huge fan of his, and I loved Downton, but I would never be selfish to make him feel obligated to stay. I wish Dan all the best. I only wish it had ended at Series 3 where it was meant to finish, then none of this would have happened. But I think a lot of these reactions from “fans” are absurd, particularly from the US. If only this attention could be directed to solving poverty and world peace.

  10. Dan Stevens should have remained one more season. There any number of twists the plot could have taken to use Mathew’s talents. He became one of the mainstays of the series; well liked snd knowledgeable in both law and business. All of those traits could have been a focus in the Downton series. Later if he had to be removed a death that was not as hurtful and cruel could have gotten him. I’m done.

  11. He could do a lot worse than a career like Caruso’s. He may have had a few lean years but went on to make made tens of millions over 10 seasons as the star of CSI Miami.

  12. I couldn’t BELIEVE what I was seeing. As soon as I saw him in the car I knew he was “for it”. I was so angry with the writer ’till I found out Stevens wanted to leave the show. Bummer but, like Carson, we will keep a stiff upper lip and soldier on! Oh yes, and not be sentimental!

  13. I really liked his character. Sad to see him leave. If I could have been someone portrayed in the series, it would be Matthew- down-to-earth, but a class act.

  14. I do not think he has as much screen presence as Goerge Clooney but his range is broader than David Caruso so he will probably land somewhere in between. I think he should have stayed for one more season. His death was too abrupt and too close to Sybil’s death. Too melodramatic. I agree that it would not be a shock if Mary and Branson get together. They both love baby Sybil and Tom would be a great father for the new little boy.

  15. Really? This man has many talents beyond acting. Who cares if he becomes a Caruso or a Clooney? There is more to life than fame and popularity, and there are more ways to make an impact. I admire his integrity and his desire to explore the wide range of options available to a talented, highly intelligent, individual. If that includes fame and recognition, great. If not, why should he care? What loyalty does he owe to TJS? ZERO

  16. I loved Matthew Crawley’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL eyes. That’s what I’ll miss the most. The eyes are mesmerizing, particularly when shot in soft light.

  17. Oh, he royally messed up. American fans are fickle and they will not forgot what he did, what a stupid thing to do, he’s either got a huge ego and wanted that Hollywood career immediately or he got really bad advice, either way, I won’t be following his career, why should I? He left me with a big empty hole in my heart that won’t soon be forgiven. Another thing, what director/producer are going to want to cast him in anything, the dude has ZERO loyalty.

  18. Neither Clooney nor Caruso–neither extreme but somewhere in the middle. he really should have stuck it out for another couple of years. There’s so much to be said for seeing things through to the end…regardless, i wish him the best of luck.

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