Returning to PBS’ Masterpiece for Season 4 on January 5, 2014, the hit drama series Downton Abbey returns to find the beloved characters learning to deal with last season’s shocking tragedy. Cast members Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Sophie McShera, Rob James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Lily James and a host of others, will be joined by Shirley MacLaine, Paul Giamatti and a handful of new faces.
During the PBS portion of the TCA Press Tour, Michelle Dockery talked about how sad it was to lose some of the actors last season, Lady Mary’s love life, how Mary will be as a mother, what sort of relationship Mary and Tom (Allen Leech) will have this season, how they’re all signed on for Season 5, and that’s she’s a bit shy about social media. Check out what she had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
MICHELLE DOCKERY: She actually has more than one love interest. Well, he’s an old family friend who she’s known since the girls were children, and they haven’t seen him since she was tiny. Throughout the series, she’ll slowly come back to real life. And of course, it’s important for her to eventually move on, so he is a potential love interest.
When you first learned that Dan Stevens was leaving the show, was your first reaction, “Oh, Lady Mary is going to get to do lots of interesting things that I never expected,” or was it, “Oh, crap”?
DOCKERY: My first reaction was “Oh, crap! What is going to happen? Where can the story go now?” We’ve spent all this time having this on and off, will they or won’t they relationship, and then suddenly, it came to an end. So, initially, I was concerned about what would happen. As much as it was sad to see Dan go, and it was to see Jessica [Brown Findlay] go, it opened up an opportunity for Julian [Fellowes] to write a new chapter and do something quite different, not only for Mary, but also with the effect it has on other characters. So, initially, I was concerned, but now I’m not because it’s a great series, and it’s a very different series to what it could have been.
Given what tends to happen to Lady Mary’s lovers, wouldn’t most men in town be afraid to court her?
DOCKERY: The new actors coming into the show as suitors are really brave because god knows what can happen. I’m pretty sure that Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen) is somewhere dead, and we don’t even know about it.
Lady Mary has softened a bit, but how will she be as a single mother?
DOCKERY: She was never going to be a very maternal mother. She’s also within the aristocracy, and they didn’t really see their kids very much. There’s a nanny, and there will eventually be a governess looking after baby George. So, you don’t see much interaction between the baby and Mary. Actually, to begin with, it’s hard to bond with the baby because she’s going through grief. She looks at him, and she sees Matthew. So, it’s a slow process, with motherhood for Mary.
DOCKERY: We are aware that there are suspicions about Tom and Mary’s relationship, but they are very much friends, and he is still her brother-in-law. I think they become close because of what they’ve both been through, having lost a partner. Also, Mary becomes far more involved in the running of the estate with Tom. So, we do have a lot of scenes together, but romantically, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I hope not. That would be very inappropriate.
You have been quoted as saying that you would stay with the show, throughout its entirety. Are you reconsidering, as you start to get more offers from Hollywood?
DOCKERY: What’s wonderful about the show is that it’s opened doors for all of us. So many of the cast are off doing other things in between. Dan is obviously doing brilliantly since he left the show, but we all can do other things in between. As far as we know, we are all doing [Season] 5 next year, and beyond that, we really don’t know. That’s in the hands of Julian and our producers. We’ll see. It’s been fine, so far.
Do you follow any of the fan communities on Twitter and Tumblr?
DOCKERY: I’ve had moments of thinking maybe I should go on Twitter. It’s something that I’ve been shy about, and I’ve thought that maybe I should do it. But, it turns out that Lady Mary’s Eyebrows have beaten me to it. I can’t believe it! There’s an actual page called “Lady Mary’s Eyebrows.”
Downton Abbey returns to PBS’ Masterpiece for Season 4 on January 5, 2014.