Is Michelle Dockery plotting her escape from ‘Downton Abbey’ after season 4?

I feel like I’m the only sticking with Downton Abbey these days, although I know that’s not true. Downton Abbey’s Season 3 airing on PBS is scoring huge numbers, although there’s still so much criticism about the series. Oddly enough, I’m about to compare Downton to Lena Dunham’s Girls: if you don’t like it, don’t watch it, but just try to accept the show for what it is. Downton is a soap opera with some ridiculous plot lines and fabulous costumes and Edwardian lust. It is what it is. Anyway, following Dan Stevens’ (SPOILER!) exit from the series at the end of Season 3, many fans are worried that Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) is going to be leaving soon too. The Mail has a new, exhaustive piece about Michelle’s efforts to make the leap across the pond. Some highlights from the piece:

Her gleaming emeralds were Bulgari, her spectacular dress was designed by Alexandre Vauthier and she had a team of Hollywood’s finest working on every aspect of her style. It’s a long way from Downton Abbey — and, indeed, from her childhood hometown of Romford — but as Michelle Dockery worked the red carpet at this week’s Golden Globes, she looked ready to leave her character of Lady Mary Crawley far behind.

So who was behind her transformation and why did Dockery make such a big deal of her nomination for a Globe? She didn’t win — indeed, she was always unlikely to against Homeland’s Claire Danes. The answer is that this is Dockery’s big moment to make the leap from domestic television star to Hollywood player. Much time and effort is being invested by some of the industry’s biggest players into turning her into a bona fide Hollywood glamour girl. Team Dockery is, by all accounts, becoming a rather formidable machine.

And although she is committed to appearing in the fourth series of Downton — which will be filmed from February to July this year — you would have to be a brave punter to bet on her hanging around after that. For it turns out that, just like her former co-star Dan Stevens before her, Dockery, 31, has started to pave the way for an exit. And her new super-groomed look is just the beginning of her grand plan.

First, that dress. Worth nearly £4,000, it secured her a place on the prestigious Harper’s Bazaar Top Ten best-dressed list and was secured for her by her new stylist, Micaela Erlanger, who is based in New York. Erlanger is a big acquisition for Dockery. One of the most influential stylists around, she doesn’t come cheap — her services for an event like this are said to cost about £10,000. In this instance, Erlanger notified the designer a fortnight before the event what Dockery wanted, and then secured the loan of the dress, plus the hire of the suite of jewellery (worth £300,000) to go with it.

Dockery’s soft, wavy hair-do was done by Mara Roszak, and her dewy make-up by Jordan Bree Long, both well-regarded professionals. In all, given the costs of hiring such a team, plus their expenses, the final figure for her big night make-over is likely to have crested £25,000. Erlanger was overheard crowing that she had wanted to ‘kick it up a notch’ for her client, which she certainly did.

As well as this glossy posse, Dockery has hired some serious backroom wheeler-dealers. She acquired the services of Sandra Chang, a well-known talent agent in Hollywood, who is looking after her interests out there. Ms Chang also polishes the prospects of Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games, and Sam Worthington of Avatar — two of the hottest young talents in town. It’s said that Chang’s firm, Anonymous Content, footed the bill for Dockery’s Globes’ makeover. Under Chang’s patronage, Dockery has started to put out feelers for a new acting career in films, which would make even her global success as Lady Mary — Downton is watched as far afield as Hungary, Argentina and New Zealand — look like small fry. When asked if she is leaving Downton, her PR handler at Milk Publicity, Jessica Morris, will only say: ‘We do not comment on or discuss individual artist’s contracts.’

But it’s clear the momentum is heading in one way only. Dockery has just finished filming a movie with Liam Neeson called Non-Stop. It’s a big budget commercial blockbuster, with a budget of £31 million, and she is the second lead after Tinseltown stalwart Julianne Moore. The producer is Joel Silver, of The Matrix, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard fame.

Leo Barraclough of the screen bible Variety tells me: ‘Non-Stop is a good big-budget action film and Liam Neeson has a history of doing these things very well and then they turn into franchises like Taken, which would be fantastic for Michelle Dockery without a doubt. It’s a very good movie for her. It looks as if she is on the brink of making the cross-over. This is no surprise because Downton is a big deal in America and is especially influential in Hollywood. This means that the cast, like Michelle, are becoming desirable to casting directors. The fact that she has been nominated for both a Screen Actors Guild award and a Golden Globe is significant. People take notice of it and it very much matters.’

I’m told that in recent weeks Dockery has auditioned for several high-profile films, among them one titled Foxcatcher, which she lost out on to Sienna Miller. She is also said to have auditioned for an adaptation of the Sondheim musical Into The Woods, which James Corden is pencilled in to star in. She was narrowly pipped to the role of Cinderella by actress Anna Kendrick, best known for Up In The Air, for which she was Oscar-nominated. Such is the buzz around Dockery that she has even entered the frame as a possible contender to appear opposite Johnny Depp in the remake of the Thirties detective classic, The Thin Man.

And you can see from her media profile, which now includes a photoshoot in this month’s In Style magazine, an interview in Vanity Fair and another shoot in Harper’s Bazaar, that she is starting to make genuine inroads into the Hollywood showbusiness scene.

[From The Mail]

I think part of the tone here is that particularly British class thing, where they seem to make fun of middle-class (or lower-class) people for being ambitious or thinking “above than their station.” I’m thrilled that Dockery is quietly plotting her exit strategy and lining up meetings and seeing what her options are. I think she sounds like a really smart, ambitious woman who is determined to make the most out of the success she’s had. Of course, I feel that way because I think Michelle is actually a talented actress – I would feel differently if she was just trying to “happen” in Hollywood with just a pretty face and no talent.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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40 Responses to “Is Michelle Dockery plotting her escape from ‘Downton Abbey’ after season 4?”

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  1. aims says:

    She’a so pretty.

    • Happymom says:

      She is-but in a real, non Hollywood way.

      • RocketMerry says:

        Yes, she has that kind of particular, classy beauty that is not very popular in HW, but I think is still film-worthy.
        I’d love to see her on the big screen, with decent parts and good scripts she could do very well.

        I just hope she sticks to DA a little longer! If everybody leaves, who are we gonna watch?! Although… it should be fine as long as Maggie Smith stays. Her, I could watch all day.

      • Liv says:

        Please, let’s just hope they don’t kill her off like the others! Jesus, isn’t their another way to get people out of the series?

  2. Riana says:

    What a GORGEOUS dress in the first pic.

    She has a face like a young Jessica Lange.

  3. Starlight says:

    She is so pretty but that hair is not going to make it to the hollywood. Make it longer.

  4. Wendy says:

    I could have done without the spoiler….kind of ruined it for me :(

  5. Amelia says:

    “..I think part of the tone here is that particularly British class thing, where they seem to make fun of middle-class (or lower-class) people for being ambitious or thinking “above than their station.”…”
    Eh, I tend to disagree really. There isn’t really a working/middle/upper class system anymore – it’s just working and middle and even then the lines are quite blurred in places. I suppose the Royal Family and anymore born with a title could be considered ‘upper’, but they’re stastistically insignificant, there’s so few of them.
    In terms of thinking above her station, I think the rest of the Downton cast should tread carefully with regards to planning an exit. It’s an ensemble show (with the exception of Dame Maggie Smith – I don’t care if she isn’t, but she’s my Empress of Downton) and no-one really sticks out as a lead character (in my mind).
    It’s a very successful and lucrative platform, I’m no expert but I think it would be wise to just hang on a little longer.

    • T.Fanty says:

      Really? I’m not sure that’s true at all. I think it’s totally there, people just don’t talk about it openly anymore. It’s a real taboo nowadays.

      • Amelia says:

        I suppose it’s a YMMV thing :) We had a crazy, eclectic mix where I grew up so I suppose I’m looking through quite filtered lenses.
        Anyway, the Mail might be the Mail but I don’t think they’re ragging on her for her background (middle class…?) or thinking above her station, which she definitely isn’t.

    • Ramona says:

      Hi Amelia,

      I realize that you are a native of England but I lived in North Yorkshire for two years and I saw evidence of a class structure everywhere. It’s quite striking to an outsider(Canadian).

      • Amelia says:

        Oh God.
        In the young, naive idealist that everyone wants to slap, aren’t I?
        Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in a bowl of creme egg ice-cream (addicted).

    • T.Fanty says:

      Creme egg ice cream? Urgh, that’s
      SO common. 😉

    • MissilePanda says:

      I think it depends where in the UK you live, I’m in Scotland and don’t notice the class divide quite as much as maybe it is noticed elsewhere?

      • berry says:

        I live in Scotland too and there are certain places here where there is an obvious divide, especially in the big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    • GoodCapon says:

      I think Jessica Brown-Findlay made the bigger risk by leaving the show early. Sybil wasn’t as major a character as Matthew is yet Dan Stevens got more flak for doing the same.

      Although for Jessica she has her young age on her side. She also has 3 projects on-going projects now, so I guess it’s working out for her.

  6. T.Fanty says:

    I’m totally with Cumby on this one: Downton Abbey is f*#%ing atrocious. I couldn’t get past the first season. The best description I ever heard of it was cultural necrophilia (although I do recognize that liking that negates my objection to Amelia’s point).

    Michelle Dockery seems very lovely; I hope she can escape.

  7. Reece says:

    I still LOVE the dress porn. I want to run thru their wardrobe dept in spanx.
    I just typed that didn’t I? :)

  8. s says:

    NOOOOOOOOOO! This is the best show ever IMO (I am so hooked) but her beauty is PERFECT for this role. WHY is the entire cast leaving the best show ever?! WHY?????

  9. Uzi says:

    Love Michelle! She’s talented, gorgeous and, if everything in this article is correct, smart about handling her career. Unlike Dan, she seems to genuinely appreciate what “Downton Abbey” has done for her. By signing on for season 4 (as has Dame Maggie and all the other major actors except Dan)she’s keeping her fan base happy and getting the opportunity to show off her acting chops while pursuing film roles. I can’t wait to see how Lady Mary copes with her heartbreak, and also look forward to seeing Michelle in her beautiful 1920′s costumes.

    • tina says:

      I agree 100% with Uzi,Michelle is so professional and so gracious not leaving DA and continue on to the 4th season and also she mentioned on one of her interviews that she loves to play the character of Lady Mary and always protective of the character that she is given to play.But Iam please that she is exploring other avenues in her career.She is so talented that it would be a pity not to use to the fullest. Iam so excited for her to be in a musical,hopefully they will make some kind of My Fair Lady version.She is the 21th century Audrey Hepburn.Hopefully her new Hollywood manager,Sandra Chang will get her to star in a movie as the leading female actor soon.Hopefully soon,can’t wait for NON-Stop to be in the movie theatres at least that will give us a Michelle fix while waiting for the next season of DA.

  10. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    After what happened in the Christmas special, I wouldn’t blame her. That was bullshit.

  11. TG says:

    I think Michelle is fantastic as Lady Mary and I don’t know her from anything else but she is fascinating to watch. I hope the best for her but I really hope she cares more about good projects than just making it in Hollywood. If I start seeing headlines about who she is dating or seeing photos of her taking dinner with someone or coming out of a club than I will be disappointed. I have a love affair with British actors, especially Downton cast, but part of their appeal, is that their personal life is unknown to me so when I watch I see their characters and not their personal lives. I have no clue whether she is married or not nor do I want to know. I am obsessed with Downton Abbey and even if some of the plotlines are cheesey and annoying (Bates anyone) the acting is superb and the clothes, just wonderful.

    • Uzi says:

      I agree with you 100%! IMO the US has movie stars, the Brits have actors…people who take their craft seriously and segue between theater/film/TV. Look at Dame Maggie’s career. I’ve loved her ever since she starred (and won her first Oscar) in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” She’s never played “the game;” doesn’t do many interviews, doesn’t pose for photos in designer clothes or paparazzi shots outside of restaurants and stage doors. I love that she doesn’t even bother to show up for these award shows. Her work speaks for itself, and obviously industry people respect that. Oh, and unlike two DA stars that left to pursue “other opportunities,” she’s signed on for season four.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree and I wish that Michelle could get noticed in Hollywood just because of her brilliant acting skills, but I wonder if it works like that nowadays? Maybe it was easier during the time Maggie Smith got famous. So I wonder if Michelle really has any choice than to also build a star-image…

      • tina says:

        Hey Uzi Iam glad we are on tha same wavelength as far as DA is concerned and Iam very protective of our darling Michelle Dockery,quoting Julliane Fellowes she is one of a kind.May be you and I can petition Julliane Fellows to write a Book about a famous lady and make a movie of it and casting Michelle Dockery as the leading female actor.

  12. jamie says:

    In season/series 3 her character is pretty dull but she is so beautiful in those clothes that it’s just fun to look at her. Yes, that sounds vapid and shallow but it’s why I’ll miss her. I really she hope she has a lot more high profile roles in the near future.

  13. Faye says:

    I think Mary Dockery’s a great actress, and I’d enjoy seeing her in Downton or Hollywood movies. I just hope Hollywood doesn’t turn her into a tanorexic, too-skinny bobblehead.

    Downton gets a *lot* of negative press in England, much of it a sort of cultural snobbery calling it a “soap opera” in derisive tones. The thing is that one of the reasons I love Downton is that *is* a soap opera, but doesn’t really pretend to be anything else. You don’t hear Julian Fellowes or any of the actors giving these long, pretentious dissertations about the deeper implications or “iconic” nature of their show (“Girls,” I’m looking at you). The actors just do their best to put on a really entertaining show, and I think they succeed in that.

    • Faye says:

      I meant Michelle, not Mary . . . end-of-week brain :) .

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Downton Abbey *is* Fellowes’ mangled dissertation and I think he makes it more than clear that he dreams of the old order when some no-name footman would do all of the derisive snorting on his behalf and for abysmal pay.

    • tina says:

      You are very right there my dear,Michelle might not have taken the award with but as a DA fun and Michelle’s she nailed it.

  14. boredsuburbanhousewife says:

    She is lovely and very good in the role but geez she is really a Stick Insect!

    I’m rooting for poor Edith this season. Can’t she ever get a break?

    Finally watched the season 2 premier of Girls. I find it interesting that the guys are actually the relatively nice normal ones and the women all seem selfish, nuts, or both.

  15. Onyx XV says:

    I have loved & thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey since it began. Michelle Dockery, however (just IMO) is the weakest link on the show. I don’t think she’s pretty, at all. And she overacts her little heart out. Maybe my dislike for her character is just unfairly rubbing off on her, I don’t know, but I don’t see big Hollywood success in her future post-Downton. Just don’t see it.

  16. lucy2 says:

    I enjoy it, but only for the occasionally great line and because I know it’s a soap in fancy clothes. If you take it seriously (Best Drama, really???) then I think it’s disappointing.

    It’s wise of her to plan for future roles and try to make a name for herself in Hollywood while the show is popular, but to leave before it’s done to chase stardom might not be the best move (see Katherine Heigl, David Caruso,Shelley Long). Enjoy a steady paycheck while it lasts.

  17. Mia 4S says:

    The Daily Fail loves to do these stories…because then they can do stories on how the actor “failed to break into America”. I remember them doing stories on the “failure” of Billie Piper and the actress who played the new Bionic Woman. It’s all very high school.

    There are no guarantees, and it’s risky to leave a show early (oh hey Dan Stevens!). I know both John Simms and Fassbender ( who reached very different levels) have said the best scenario is when Hollywood comes to you. If they want you, they know where you are. Good examples? The Sherlock boys. Hell by the time Cumberbatch arrived in LA he was in two Oscar nominated movies and had Spielberg as a reference! That’s the exception though, most of these “big” stars in Britain will start at a much lower tier in Hollywood.

  18. nikko says:

    For her on good, she should stay, because she’s not that great of an actor. She’s really dull. For my own good, it would be good if she left. I don’t like her at all.

  19. Ally8 says:

    I haven’t seen much of a range so far in her acting, but her face does look marvellous onscreen. I was sorry her character didn’t get more play in Anna Karenina… in the novel she’s a roustabout shocking lady who says what she thinks.

    I think she should see a physiotherapist about her shoulders, though. She hunches them up so much (even without the shoulder pads!) I feel like she’s crunching some vertebrae or something.

  20. Amy says:

    I personally don’t really like Lady Mary all that much. Lady Mary is obsessed with class and wealth–she even turned down Matthew at first because she thought Cora might have a boy when she got pregnant in the first season (meaning Matthew wouldn’t inherit Downton and Mary wouldn’t either if they got married). Her only redeeming quality was the fact that Matthew was somehow able to get past her cold and mean exterior–something I never quite understood but the fact that the boy was able to find anything positive about Mary made him endearing to me.

    That being said I do think Michelle Dockery is a decent actress–I would like to see her in other roles. I find Lady Mary’s role to be rather limiting–everybody on Downton is overshadowed by Dame Maggie Smith! And Carson. Love Carson!

  21. tina says:

    I don’t think Michelle Dockery is even planning to leave DA.She the type of person who is so profesional and gracious in every aspect.She loves DA because she is the blood of DA and she has a very repoire’ with JF.She will continue to be playing Lady Mary and will make time even she is casted in other project or big screen movies.I think that she will make use of the mentality if there is a will there is a way mentality to accomodate her schedule.In the mean time lets pray that Sandra Chang,her new talent manager will convince movie producers in hollywood that she will be casted in a good movie that she will be the leading female actor so we can have our Michelle fix before the 4th season of DA or lets all write a petition to Jullianne Fellows to write a story about a famous lady and convince Garreth Neame to produce. Just love Michelle Dockery and I would like to thank her Mother who she said to be her women of the year for doing such a good job of supporting her through all the years and making her a well grounded person with such a pleasant personality. Michelle Dockery is on of a kind.