Downton Abbey movie: Everything you need to know

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: ITV

From Digital Spy

After what felt like endless rumours, the Downton Abbey movie was officially confirmed on July 13 and has now officially started filming.

Last year, it was confirmed that there was a big screen spin-off "in the works", but it felt like it would never happen – especially as one of the issues was getting all the cast back together almost three years after the finale aired.

"When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production. Julian's script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival's hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen," enthused producer Gareth Neame.

Photo credit: Getty Images

The movie has been written by creator Julian Fellowes and was originally going to be directed by Brian Percival, who directed the show's original pilot, before he stepped aside. He will now executive produce the movie and Michael Engler – who directed four episodes of the show and the pilot for Fellowes' new show The Gilded Age – will now direct the movie.

Now that filming is underway, what else do we know about the Downton Abbey movie?

Downton Abbey movie cast: Who's coming back?

All of the original cast will be returning for the big-screen outing, including Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley.

Perhaps more surprising is that Maggie Smith is set to return as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, given that she's previously said a movie could be "squeezing it dry"" – although maybe her theory will come true.

Photo credit: Nick Briggs - ITV

"I was firmly convinced it would start with the funeral [of Violet]. I thought it would be a bit like that. I could croak it. It would just start with the body. But I don't know," she said in April 2017.

Matthew Goode will also be popping up as Henry Talbot, but don't expect to see too much of him sadly. "I'm just popping in at the end, which is a nice way to do it," he explained, later adding: "It's a brilliant story, the cast has gotten bigger, there's great new faces."

The movie will be missing one major name though as Lily James has confirmed she won't be back as Lady Rose MacClare, and it's not because of her schedule. "I'm sadly not, but I'm so excited for it - I'm going to be front row," she explained, adding that the reason "wasn't schedules".

Photo credit: Carnival/itv

"My character Rose moved off to New York, so it would be farfetched to bring her back," she explained. "I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can't be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline. There was no space for Rose."

One former Downton star who is angling for a return is Robert Bathurst, who played Sir Anthony Strallan. "I disappeared from 'Downton Land' in series three. Off he went. He left Edith at the altar never to be seen again. The rat should come back!" he joked.

Photo credit: ITV

Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Philips and Stephen Campbell Moore have all joined the cast of the movie, but their characters are not yet known.

Downton Abbey movie release date: When can we expect it?

With filming now underway, we have now got a confirmed release date of September 13, 2019 in the UK, with a US release a week later on September 20, 2019.

The later release could be an indication that the producers are confident enough in the movie to position it for awards, given it will come out just as awards season starts to kick in.

Downton Abbey movie plot: What will it be about?

After ruining Christmas in 2012 with the death of Matthew Crawley, the final episode of Downton Abbey was actually pretty happy, despite also airing on Christmas Day in 2015.

Photo credit: ITV

The final-ever episode saw Edith get married to Bertie, Mary reveal that she was pregnant with her second child (while Anna gave birth to her first), Henry and Tom go into business together selling cars and Carson resigning as butler because of his illness.

No official plot details have been released yet for the movie. The last episode was set at the end of 1925, but we're not ruling out a time jump of a few years.

Downton Abbey movie trailer: When will it land?

Now that filming has started, we're hopeful we could get a teaser of all the cast back together on set at some point, but that might just be wishful thinking on our part. Otherwise, you're looking at the end of this year at the earliest for a trailer.

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