Dan Stevens has officially left Downton Abbey after 3 seasons (spoilers)


SPOILERS for Season 3 of Downton Abbey, which will begin airing in America two Sundays from now on PBS.

So, you know how I love the crazy, soapy, ridiculous drama that is Downton Abbey? I really do love it. I guess I’m one of the few people who didn’t flat-out hate Season 2, mostly because I accepted it for what it was: a ridiculous soap opera with amazing costumes. I loved several of the love stories (Lady Sybil and Branson, Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew, etc), and the only storyline that grated on my last nerve was the stupid crap with Bates and Anna.

So, I was a fan… and then I encouraged CB to watch it. And now she’s so obsessed that she already watched Season 3, because it already aired in the UK and she knows how to do that thing with her IP address. But I STILL haven’t seen Season 3. And I keep reading crazy spoilers for it. I know what happens to Lady Sybil. And now I know what happens to Cousin Matthew!! G—damn it. So, long story short… Season 3 was Dan Stevens’ last season. BOOO!!! No more magic tingles in his pants. No more blue-eyed Edwardian heartthrob. No more!!!!

Many a Downton Abbey fan’s worst fear has indeed come true: Dan Stevens, as previously reported, will not be continuing on as Matthew Crawley for Season 4.

UK-based viewers who laid witness to the acclaimed period drama’s Christmas special on Tuesday night gleaned as much — and though this news story will steer clear of detailing how/why Matthew exits the canvas, be forewarned that the commenters below have free reign.

In an interview with the UK’s Telegraph, Stevens says that leaving Downton “was a very difficult decision,” though one that he made before filming on the third and final season of his contract began. “It felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment,” he recalls. “From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.”

Acknowledging that his role as Matthew was “a very monopolizing job,” he says “there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness. because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.” Though he at the time thought he was signing on for any old period drama, he notes that as fashioned by Julian Fellowes, “Anything could happen and generally did.”

Stevens says it was “very emotional” shooting his final episode, seeing as he and his castmates for three years now have been on “the most amazing journey… I don’t think any of us, with the possible exception of Maggie [Smith], have had this kind of explosion in our career paths, and may never again,” he adds. “It has been so bizarre, and only those who have been through it can understand it.”

Stevens — who is currently appearing on Broadway with Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn in The Heiress — looks forward to exploring new and different roles, though knowing how unpredictable an actor’s life can be, admits, “That may not be the case. I genuinely don’t know exactly what is around the corner,” he allows, “but I hope it will be something a little bit different.”

Downton Abbey Season 3 makes its Stateside premiere on Jan. 6, on PBS.

[From TV Line]

The New York Times has an even more hardcore spoiler-tastic version if you’d like to read it HERE – they go into detail about how Cousin Matthew was written out of the show.

As for Dan Stevens and what I’m assuming is his insistence that his career will continue to blossom post-Downton… could be. Believe it or not, there will always be a demand for handsome Englishmen who look great in period costume. Think about Colin Firth’s career, you know? I have no doubt that Dan Stevens will continue to find work in the UK in films and television. As for a Hollywood career… it could happen. He’s not really going to have a Colin Firth-level career or anything, but I could see Dan getting some Hollywood work, especially if he doesn’t mind character work (as opposed to leading man work). Plus, he’s already on Broadway with Jessica Chastain! He’ll always be able to work on the stage, in London or NYC.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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65 Responses to “Dan Stevens has officially left Downton Abbey after 3 seasons (spoilers)”

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  1. Riana says:

    Why is it always men that seem to be blessed with the perfectly piercing crystalline blue eyes?

    I never see eyes THAT blue on women.

  2. Victoria1 says:

    Bloody hell! I read spoilers on DM and was rightfully pissed. I won’t say anymore

  3. ds says:

    Did you not watch the Christmas special?!!! I am still in deep sorrow. Stevens is not my kind of manly man but his voice is so amazing! And Matthew is sooo nice! This is one sad fan here. We still have Maggie Smith though.

  4. Post-It's says:

    I hope Dan Stevens ejoys his next big career move as a Hobbit in a Peter Jackson movie(I’m just bitter).

  5. Angie says:

    Omg, I just saw the christmas episode without knowing that it was Dan steven’s last season and I was shocked at the end, I didn’t expected it. I hated it, and I know the serie is like a crazy soap opera but I’m kinda over it now because it has become too much.

  6. Dirtnap says:

    Well, guess now I know Matthew’s and Sybil’s plotlines …

  7. Murphy says:

    i was really upset about the ending, but at least the show can still go on thanks to what he was on his way to Downton to announce…

    I bet his wife got sick of all those super romantic pictures of him and Michelle Dockery.

  8. Talie says:

    If I had to guess, I think what pushed Dan over the edge was ego. When he was the only principal cast-member not to get an Emmy nomination after it seemed like everyone in the cast was nominated…I’m sure it hurt. Also, Michelle Dockery seems to be the one whom awards bodies want to shower with attention.

    Still, this seems like an epic mistake on his part. On the other hand, that finale was amazing and so emotional because of his death. Such a great season.

    • Uzi says:

      I agree…and the irony is that Dan’s departure will give Michelle even more opportunity to show off her acting chops. The Mary/Matthew relationship became very boring after they wed. Now Mary will grieve and possibly meet new suitors.

      Dan’s acting career will survive. He’s very well connected in the UK, so once he fails to become the next Colin Firth he’ll always be able to return to the stage and the period roles that he’s done before. In my opinion Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil) took a much bigger risk by turning her back on Downton. She’s young and doesn’t have as varied and extensive a career as Dan.

  9. MollyB says:

    It always bugs me when actors leave shows that are critical and commercial successes to pursue Hollywood. Sure, the last two seasons weren’t as good as season one but it’s not Two and a Half Men, either. For every George Clooney there are two dozen David Carusos. And I love, love, love Cousin Matthew but come on–Dan Stevens is no Daniel Day Lewis.

    • Rumorhasit says:

      Hubris will be his downfall, as you pointed out, as it was for so many others.
      The mistake they make is thinking that they as an actor are bigger than their character, and that their character is bigger than the show that made them famous.
      But like inheritance system in England, there’s always another one to pass the goods off to.
      Thanks for your supreme personal sacrifice for 3 seasons, Downton Abbey will continue grandly unfazed as your career fades into oblivion.

      • khaveman says:

        I’m with you on this one. I don’t think he’s that great of an actor and frankly, he needs to watch that weight of his. He’s no Daniel Craig, body-wise. I’m sure he thinks he is going to have huge career success, but frankly I don’t see it on this side of the pond. I think he has made a huge mistake.

      • Liza Jane says:

        I think you need to read some of his interviews with the British ‘daily Telegraph’ that he has done! It is a quite different take on fame that English actors have as opposed to most American ones! Definately not as much worship of fame and money!!His primary love is the stage,which he performs on regularly in the UK..he just judged the literary Man Booker awards( as he is very much into promoting good literature) he writes a blog,he has a monthly column in the Telegraph..he is so much more than a TV actor!! He admits it is scary to let go of the comfy job but says he has so much more he wants to explore, he would like to do films but says he was afraid of getting typecast as Downton looked like it could run years( don’t think so myself) I get the impression that he just wanted to stretch himself a bit and sensed no arrogance on his part( totally unlike David Caruso who was a douche and got bitten badly by his fame seeking) 3 years is a lot of time to give to one project and let’s face it, the storyline was getting duller for Mary and Matthew!! I think he did the right thing but am not sure that Julian Fellowes did by killing Matthew off..that seemed like spite to me! He could have found some more creative way!Too many killings of major characters and people will be turned off!!! At least Matthew left an heir…I think the series will jump forward 20 years now,to the Second World War and the heir having to go off to fight!! Seems a logical move! Of course a 20 year jump will mean the end of the Dowager Duchess and let’s face it..Maggie Smith is why we all tune in!! No- one has her impact,Shirley MacLaine was a total loss this past season….looked right out of place and could not out-act Maggie!!

      • Lauli says:

        Very brave move. If I were him,I wouldn’t have the courage to leave such a successful show.

  10. judyjudy says:

    I didn’t read this article because I don’t want the spoilers. I just came her to comment NOooooooooooo!

  11. ruby says:

    I’m very sad about this because I was hoping Lady Mary’s character would be challenged in new ways (raising a family with her husband, I was secretly hoping she could have a daughter after her son, how fun would it be to see her deal with a headstrong daughter just like her ? I’m sure it would open her eyes and make her grow as a person, and now that will never happen.)

    Instead, Matthew’s death will reinforce her hard and solitary side, not really what I was hoping for her.

    I also have to say I’m not very pleased with their extremely simplistic view of obstetrics and giving birth. Pushing these outdated stereotypes does no good to anyone.

    • Faun says:

      Personally, I approve of the old-fashioned ways. Men don’t need to see everything. The more mystery the better.

      But go ahead and let your husband see you pooping on the delivery table – I’m sure it’ll be good for your love life.

      • ruby says:

        That’s not at all what I was referring to XD You have entirely missed the point.

        I was talking about how today our hyper medicalized hospital births create problems where often there are none. We have gone from one extreme to another and many people would like there to be more choices and less judgment around birth. And yet the message downton pushes is entirely black and white : home birth = death, hospital birth = life, as well as “move around a bit too much in your 3rd trimester and you’ll have a premature baby” which is entirely untrue. If you are predisposed to preterm birth then yes, you should be careful. If your pregnancy is normal and healthy then living your life as you feel comfortable will absolutely not affect your baby.

        As for this “mystery” stuff, do what suits you, but actually, my boyfriend couldn’t care less about the pooping part, so don’t generalize based on your life. Both myboyfriend and I know there is more to life than stifling christian-based shaming of our natural bodily functions. It only leads to an unhealthy relationship with our bodies, and we’re not interested in that. We’d much rather be relaxed and accepting of who we really are, which is animals, with unusually developed brains, maybe, but animals all the same. I don’t know what frightens people so much with that ! There is nothing wrong or bad in truly accepting what we are, it’s great ! We’re alive and we sense and feel and live and really, is it necessary to feel ashamed for that ?

      • LAK says:

        Ruby – you do understand that DA is a PERIOD drama?!

        They research the period and try to encapsulate what was considered ‘normal’ during THAT time.

      • ruby says:

        Thank you LAK, but I do know. I am quite aware of the history of medicine. I’m just saying this perfect view of hospital in the 1920s is a far cry from the truth, with the horrors of Twilight Sleep and similar drugs so prevalent in that era, as well as sometimes very inadequate care, doctors that didn’t wash their hands nearly enough (puerperal fever…), etc. It was a very alienating process to say the least.

        Downton is exactly in that time frame where births migrated from home to hospital, and the reasons Donton shows for this are at best grossly simplistic, at worst in bad taste.

      • LAK says:

        @Ruby – do you also realise that this show is idealistic at best and not social realism??!!

        eg the sheer drudgery of the servants’ lives. It was infinitiesmally more appalling for them than the life depicted on DA.

    • Jen34 says:

      I still haven!t gotten over the fact that Elizabeth McGovern’s character miscarried from a fall in the tub. I thought only a man could write something so stupid and inaccurate.

    • Sweetness says:

      I agree, Ruby. There were so many nuances in medicine at that time, and actually, some home births attended by experienced midwives were a lot safer than hospital births with fancy doctors who often did not have the experience of midwives. Statistics on infant mortality rates prove that. I think they just dramatize for the show, it’s not like DA is the epitome of a well-researched historical show now. It’s a drama drama soap opera.

      And Faun… my husband witnessed our daughter being born and it was an amazing experience for him. His was the first voice our daughter heard coming out. So I’m all for this crazy modern trend of a husband supporting and helping his wife through one of the most painful experiences of her life. If he’s not ready to be there for the hard part, he shouldn’t have signed up for it in the first place.

  12. Nya says:

    lol what a twat his career in America will go nowhere.

  13. Katie says:

    I couldn’t get into Downton Abbey (I’m more of an Arrested Development kind of girl), but if you guys are jonesing for some Dan Stevens, get a hold of the recent TV miniseries of Sense & Sensibility. He plays Edward, floppy Hugh Grant hair and all.

  14. Val5 says:

    I think he made ​​a bad decision to leave the show thinking he can make big in the U.S.. He is a good actor but nothing special, he is quite pretty but this kind of goiter he has strike his face a bit I think. I will continue to watch the series, I am Lord Grantham and Thomas’s fan first anyway.

  15. juicyjackie says:

    He will probably end up as a minor vampire in True Blood…. Please be Pam’s sex slave, please, please, please

  16. qtpi says:

    Reminds me of that red headed guy who was on CSI Miami – didn’t he leave another show early because he thought he was hot sh*t? And then his career tanked?

    I suppose this guy is getting a ton of offers so he knows what is available out there.. but he had SO much exposure on this show. I wonder if he asked for too much money and they can’t afford it what with the costumes and scenery and soooo many characters. It really is a shame though. He is a major character and they are going to have to muddy up the story big time now. :( :( :(

  17. Cam S says:

    I haven’t read the above article or comments because I’ve not yet seen season 3. I do not know if he opted out of his contract or his character has been written off. But I do hate it when an actor gets a crazy juicy role on cable or tv series, gets a lot of good reviews and then leaves to pursue other projects.

    It hardly ever works out, and we see them back on a series in a few years. Examples: Shelly Long, David Caruso (sp?).

    • Liza Jane says:

      Comparing those 2 light weights to a British trained actor is ludicrous..please go online and read the Daily Telegraph articles with Dan Stevens before you arbitrarily assume he has come to the States to seek fame and fortune!! Look at Colin Firth and several other Brits..never pushy,never fame mongers…just a desire to stretch themselves..Dan Stevens is of that ilk..he’s certainly got an interesting back history and is Cambridge educated!!!

  18. Miss M says:

    Thanks for this spoiler. I did not see the Christmas episode.

    The third season was already ruined for me when I saw what happened to Lady Sybil (my favorite character).

    Sure, I won’t be watching Downton Abbey without cousin Matthew. Lady Mary annoys me too much!

  19. Layale says:

    Possible Spoiler Alert:

    There is at least one blind item–that many have guessed Dan Stevens is the subject of–that indicate it’s excessive cocaine use that led to his dismissal and the whole “pursing his career elsewhere” is just PR crap.

    Whatever the case, I am sad, because I do love the show.

  20. Tanguerita says:

    I’m so over “Downton Abbey”. It has become a really bad soap opera. I kept watching because of Maggie Smith, but even she can’t save this fuckery anymore.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I’ll say what I always say, DA is one of the most compulsively watchable and balls out stupid shows on the air right now. A person can’t rip off an entire storyline from Mrs. Miniver wholesale and wallow a hundred cliches deep in itself and expect to be taken seriously. But I still watch this dog and Grantham show.

  21. ol cranky says:

    ugh, as soon as I heard he was leaving I figured the character dies but I’m really sad to hear Sybil dies as well :(

  22. Grifters says:

    It took Colin Firth twenty years of B and C level films to attain the top of the heap into A List Hollywood status and win an Academy Award, it was not ‘overnight’success in America for Colin Firth,Anthony Hopkins,Helen Mirren it was a 20 even 30 year journey for these great English actor’s. I think Dan is believing those NY and Hollywood agents and managers filling his head with ‘hype’,that he’ll be Jeremy Irons, but it even took Jeremy Iron’s a good ten years after Brideshead Revisited to find success in Hollywood and win an Academy Award. He better hope he gets in a big hit film which makes money right away or those Hollywood agents who are blowing pink-hollywood smoke up his butt will drop him like a hot tomato.

  23. TG says:

    I agree with @lizajane – If you read Dan Stevens interviews he is an intellectual with many varied interests. I don’t think he is trying to become more famous and successful, at least not the way most of us are thinking and they way American actors do it. I agree it is annoying and selfish to leave the show when so many others depend on its success, but he has to look out for himself.

    • Grifters says:

      Of course he’s trying for Hollywood and Film success, do you think he pursued acting to go sit in a corner and read a book? His head has been turnedby his success on Downton,he’s really being stupid to leave now, he should haveplayed it out,Downton willprobably only last two more years maybe three atthe most and he would have still been young enough to jump off into films and he can also do film roles during breaks from Downton. But maybe he is looking at the actress who played Lady Sybil who is now cast as a lead in a movie with RussellCrowe.

  24. Victory says:

    this sucks. that dan stevens decides what happens in downton abbey and not the writers… how will they come up with new characters that will fit so well, and be liked by as many – as sybil and matthew?

    Don’t think this show will have many more seasons sadly.

  25. Jen34 says:

    I came back to this thread after checking in this morning and am really disappointed by the spoilers. Next time, I am staying away.

  26. Shy says:

    So Dan Stevens is that stupid member of successful boy band that leaves group because he thinks he will make it by himself. And then there are only Robbie Williams and Timberlake who made it. All other vanished. Only to rejoin their band mates years later when they need money because they didn’t make it…
    So stupid from Dan. He will do some work. But nothing as big as Abbey. It will never be as big. He will never be that popular. Like when David Tennant left Doctor Who. He works a lot if you look at his IMDB. But apart from that Fright Night supporting role – we didn’t hear about any of his work. I have to give credit to guys from Misfits – Iwan Rheon and Robert Sheehan. They both managed to find post-misfts roles in Game of Thrones and City of Bones. And City might be as successful as Hunger Games. Book has lots of fans. And Robert Sheehan might find franchise on his belt. I didn’t believe they would survive post-misfits.
    Who knows about Dan. Maybe he will get lucky to get some good role. But still it was so stupid to leave. It’s not like Abbey has 22 episodes per year and he doesn’t have time for other project. British TV shows have few episodes per year. He has lots of free time.

  27. buckley says:

    His face looks totally different and so very feminine.

  28. GoodCapon says:

    Kaiser you really should change the title of this article. It’s loaded with spoilers already.

    It doesn’t matter to me anyway though. I haven’t watched the special yet but I’ve been spoiled accidentally in another website. UGH.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I agree. That wasn’t a show spoiler, it was a series spoiler.

      I don’t think you can say that the male lead is leaving the show and say it’s not a spoiler. Maybe none of the upcoming episode specifics are revealed but it deflates the viewing experience because there’s no investment to be had in a character who we now know is moribund. It’s a minor quibble, to be sure, but it’s nice to be surprised when the show in question is so predictable.

  29. Barbara Lifton says:

    It is the responsibility of the producers of a show to tailor plot lines to fit the time committments of the lead actors. Stevens, rightly or wrongly for his career committed only to 3 years. Neame and Fellowes should have planned Stevens’s story arc and departure after Series 3 better. As far as Dan’s future is concerned- that’s his business. He has starred in two excellent tv series- DA and Line of Beauty. (Plus Sense and Sensibility.) He has starred in an excellent German movie- Hilde- and will be seen in Summer in February next year (co-produced and acted in it), and has been, and still is, a superb theater actor. He has never contributed anything but good performances. All I can say about this beautiful and very talented man, is good luck and best of a happy new year to himself and his lovely family.

  30. Amy says:

    I finally caught up with Downton Abbey by streaming it online (not waiting it for it to air here in the US, kind of stupid given all the spoilers out there). I was able to watch the finale before being inundated with articles about Dan Stevens’s character or what happens to Lady Sybil. I have to say I didn’t enjoy the third season as much as the first two. This season kind of felt like it was all over the place.

    However I am glad that Lady Edith seemed to be given more direction as the season went on (after the poor thing goes through the emotional wringer at the beginning of the season). The poor thing just can’t catch a break! Also I ended up liking Branson’s character a lot. And while I like Michelle Dockery, I kind of felt like Dan Stevens was the better actor of the two. I am really disappointed to see him go but it was his decision. He made Lady Mary seem like less of a b–ch. Without him, Lady Mary just seems kind of shallow and just mean.

  31. Maxine says:

    I’m so obsessed with this show I even try to find out info about Isis the dog! I’m telling you, if I were a successful actor on a hit show, they’d have to carry me kicking and screaming off of it . . . . especially a show that’s only been on for 3 season. We’re not talking about Cheers here. . . ride the wave dude!

    But I wish Stevens much luck. I live in NY and will be going to see him on broadway. PS. . . . does he remind anyone else of a young Cary Elwes?

  32. Really? says:

    I don’t care about whether or not Matthew is there…i watch it for Dame Maggie! She is AMAZING, i love how she delivers her lines and expressions, she is just such a delight to watch, she makes the whole show in my opinion.

  33. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    They kill the wrong characters, Suffering Psyche, kill Bates. Twice.

  34. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Just watched the Dullsville turned Lameway Drive Christmas special. Bleh.