New role helped Downton star Michelle Dockery cope with fiancé's death

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery has opened up about her year of heartbreak following the death of fiancé John Dineen.

Michelle Dockery

John tragically died from a rare form of cancer the age of just 34 in December, and Michelle says throwing herself into work has helped her to struggle through the worst year of her life.

Michelle and John, an Irish financial PR, were introduced by Downton Abbey co-star Allen Leech in 2013, and got engaged the following year. They were due to marry this year.

“Friends and family see you through the most difficult times,” the 34-year-old actress told the Sunday People. “But acting can help at certain times in your life. It’s a release in some sense and it was very fortunate for me that this came along at just the right time.

John Dineen and Michelle Dockery

And as roles go, Michelle’s turn as drug-abusing con-artist Letty Raines in Good Behaviour couldn’t be more different to Lady Mary Crawley.

“It wasn’t a conscious decision to do something so totally different from Lady Mary but I was hooked on the script from the first page,” she explained. “I loved the complexity of the character. Letty’s a joy to play and a real blessing for me.”

The new role came at the perfect time for Michelle, when she was left jobless by Downton’s demise just at the time John began to lose his cancer battle. And despite her time on the ITV period drama being bookended by tragedy, she has nothing but affection for the show.

“It was incredible journey for six years and we were very sad to say goodbye,” she explained. “But it was the right time and it was very exciting actually leaving and going onto something like Good Behaviour and a whole new path in my career.”

Michelle Dockery

You can see Michelle in her new cocaine-snorting, cigar smoking guise in Good Behaviour on satellite channel TNT next month.

By: Stewart Turner