Dan Stevens' shock exit from worldwide smash Downton Abbey at the end of last year was not just a surprise for audiences it seems, as the Brit actor reveals that "on paper it felt mad to walk away."
The actor's character Matthew Crawley met his demise in a car crash in the Christmas special last year, just moments after viewers saw his onscreen wife Mary give birth to their first child.
Dan's decision to leave the hugely successful drama after three series came as a shock, and the actor admits he still gets grief for his decision!
"Yes, I spend a lot of time apologising to people’s wives here," Dan reveals to the Daily Mail in an interview from his new home in New York. "Downton’s bigger here than there. There’s an Anglophile streak here which is still very strong."
Dan insists that he "made my decision for myself, but I didn’t make it alone. Everybody who knows and supports me was behind it and that made it feel the right thing to do."
Dan Stevens' decision to leave Downton Abbey shocked viewers (WENN)
"Also it excited me to follow my instinct which said this is the right time. It’s just a nice feeling to have when you can trust yourself."
The star goes on to reveal that he became disillusioned with the worldwide success of Julian Fellowe's drama, and was hungering for a new challenge:
"I had a great three years. I had a blast. I have some very fond memories. The cast were lovely. It was just time. Its success was unexpected for all of us. When we came back together for even series two we were a bit shell-shocked at the popularity, and by season three it almost seemed ridiculous how big the thing had become."
Reports at the time of his exit suggested said Stevens left creator Fellowes in the lurch when he quit, something the actor is keen to clear up as he insists: "I gave them plenty of warning – it wasn’t like I slammed the door and walked out. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to face. On paper it looked mad to walk away, but it felt like the right time."
Dan says that he was given no input into how Matthew would exit the show revealing that "there was a lot of anticipation as to how I would go over, and when we got the scripts it was like, “OK, that’s the way it’s going to happen.”
"But having him die in a car crash on Christmas Day on British TV did seem nearly sacrilegious. You aren’t supposed to be killed off on Christmas Day!"
The Brit has been keeping busy since leaving Downton, originally packing up and heading to New York for his Broadway debut opposite Jessica Chastain in The Heiress. He has remained in the city, and will next be seen in Frank Scott's A Walk Among The Tombstones opposite Liam Neeson, in which he plays a Brooklyn drug trafficker seeking revenge on serial killers who have murdered his wife.
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