Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery on new role shortlisting upcoming talent

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery has joined actors Andy Serkis and Sadie Frost on a jury which will shortlist upcoming talent for the EE Rising Star Award.

The award, which will celebrate its 17th anniversary in 2022, is the only category at the Bafta film awards voted for by the public, and previous winners include Bukky Bakray, Micheal Ward, Letitia Wright, Kristen Stewart, Daniel Kaluuya, John Boyega and Tom Hardy.

Headed up by TV producer and director Krishnendu Majumdar, who became Bafta’s chair last year, the jury panel also includes casting directors Lucy Bevan and Leo Davis, and other names from the world of entertainment.

Andy Serkis is part of the jury deciding the nominees (Tim Whitby/PA)
Andy Serkis is part of the jury deciding the nominees (Tim Whitby/PA)

Dockery, 39, who will reprise her role as Lady Mary in the upcoming Downton Abbey film sequel, told the PA news agency that being on the panel “means a great deal”.

She said: “I’m honoured to be part of it. And I’m really interested to see what comes out of this meeting, to deliberate what talent goes through to the shortlist, it means a great deal.

“It’s incredibly important because it celebrates new talent … this award really shines a light on new talent and is potentially a springboard for them to make audiences more aware of their talent.”

Downton Abbey: A New Era will arrive in cinemas in March 2022 and the actress said of being reunited with the cast: “It’s great, we had a really good time. We’re like a big family now. And it’s always great to get back with the old gang. We had a brilliant time.”

Lord Of The Rings actor Serkis, 57, told PA: “I think of all the awards, this is one of the most important because the emerging talent, the diversity of the talent that’s out there … I mean it’s a very tricky one to get right. But I’m really proud and honoured to be part of it this year.

Bukky Bakray
Bukky Bakray won the award previously (Ian West/PA)

“This award I do think is singularly the most, probably the one that has the most effect, in terms of changing someone’s career or bringing them to light, getting them out into the world.”

He added: “This year is really difficult because there’s just a kind of huge array of wonderful talent.”

Serkis is best known for his pioneering use of motion capture and CGI as Gollum in The Lord Of The Rings and as Caesar in the Planet Of The Apes films, as well as for playing Snoke in Star Wars.

He also recently directed Marvel’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, a sequel to the 2018 blockbuster.

Bevan’s film credits include casting for Sir Kenneth Branagh’s latest film Belfast, as well as Disney’s recent film Cruella, starring Emma Stone. Films worked on by Davis include 2006’s The Queen with Dame Helen Mirren in the leading role, as well as 2013’s Philomena starring Dame Judi Dench, and TV series A Very English Scandal.

The shortlist for the EE Rising Star Award 2022 will be announced on February 1, with nominations for the Bafta film awards announced on February 3.

Next year’s Bafta film ceremony is scheduled to take place on March 13.