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Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael admits she ‘dreaded’ wearing swimsuits for new film


Downton Abbey fans rejoice – the sequel to the first flick has hit the silver screen and promises to bring more extravagant costumes, plot twists and heart-warming moments than ever.

Leaving their residence of Downton behind them, this new addition to the franchise sees the aristocrats head to the South of France to uncover the mysterious past of the Dowager Countess of Grantham [played by Maggie Smith] when she reveals she’s inherited a villa from a man in her past. It’s certainly a step away from the manor house antics we are used to!

With the long-awaited movie set to be just as popular as the first, what is the secret to the success of the posh period drama?

As the sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era airs in cinemas, some of the film’s leading ladies Laura Carmichael, Tuppence Middleton, Joanne Froggatt and Michelle Dockery explain.

“I think one of the things I love about this film is that it’s true escapism,” Laura, 35, who plays Lady Edith Crawley, tells us.

“It takes you into a world where people are fundamentally good and trying to do their best by people.”







Pictured: (L-R) Harry Hadden-Paton stars as Bertie Pelham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, Tuppence Middleton as Lucy Smith and Allen Leech as Tom Branson
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And Joanne, 41, who plays lady’s maid Anna Bates, says watching the movie back felt “like a warm hug to me”.

“I felt very nostalgic,” she reveals.

“It made me laugh out loud, I shed a tear. I just thought it really hit all the points that it needs to hit. And I think anyone who loves the show is really going to enjoy checking in with these characters in this second film.”

Michelle, 40, adds, “We’re like a family and it’s been nearly 12 years now since we started the show, so it’s a great feeling to all come back together.

“But also, it’s exciting having new cast members come in. It’s always great to kind of shift the energy a bit.”

It’s been quite a ride for Michelle since the show ended in 2015, with the actress’s star well and truly rising after her stunning first performance as Lady Mary Crawley in the cult drama.







Laura Carmichael was nervous about getting into an early 1900s swimsuit
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She also impressed with her portrayal of Rosalind Pearson, the wife of Matthew McConaughey’s drug-dealing character in the Guy Ritchie action comedy The Gentlemen.

And more recently she wowed Netflix audiences with her performance in the drama, Anatomy Of A Scandal. She starred as hotshot barrister Kate Woodcroft, determined to take down a Government minister accused of rape.

“It’s a proper grown-up role,” she laughs of the character. “I even get to wear a pair of glasses!”

While her career continues to flourish, Michelle’s personal life is on the up, too.

Tragically, she was left a widow back in 2015 when her fiancé John Dineen passed away, following his battle with a rare form of cancer.

It was a traumatic time for Michelle who referred to his illness last year, insisting in the midst of his waning health she “never lost hope”.







Michelle is now engaged again after she was left a widow in 2015
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“I’m not exaggerating when I say that John did not complain once, never, not once, and that gave us strength,” she said.

“It’s what keeps you going, that positivity – to never lose that hope for a miracle. I couldn’t have done it any other way.”

But this January, she finally got her happy ending when she confirmed she is engaged to Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brother Jasper, with a notice in a national paper.

And when it comes to filming the Downton sequel, there was more joy for her when the cast got word they could shoot in France, after the coronavirus cast doubt on their filming locations.

“I think there were times when they were nervous whether they could actually go to France or not,” she says.

“So it was such a celebration when everybody heard, ‘They can do it! They can actually shoot in France!’”

While Tuppence, 35, adds, “The villa is extraordinary. And it’s just one of those moments.

“I genuinely felt like I couldn’t believe my eyes, how beautiful it was. And I think it just brings so much to the film. It’s so glamorous. And I think you see these characters you’re used to seeing in really formal situations, in libraries and drawing rooms and dining rooms, and all of a sudden they’re on the beach. And that just does something to them. It frees them up, I think, you know, that’s really interesting.”







They all say the Downton Abbey cast feels like a ‘family’
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And who can talk about Downton without including the sensational wardrobe.

Corsets, bonnets and three-piece suits galore are something all the cast have to get on board with when shooting. But a tweak to their get-up this time around, which proved uncomfortable for some, was the swimming costumes they had to wear for scenes on the Riviera.

“There’s such a specific shape and fit. So we spent weeks dreading having to be in front of the camera,” Tuppence says.

“But actually, that’s the beauty of Anna [Robbins, the costume designer], she makes everything fit people’s bodies perfectly. And they were just so lovely that I kind of actually really liked the swimming costumes in the end.”

Tuppence delighted fans at the ritzy London premiere last week when she announced she is pregnant with her first child, showing off her blossoming bump in a Valentino dress on the red carpet.







Tuppence Middleton attends the World Premiere of “Downton Abbey: A New Era”
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The star, who plays Lucy Branson in the movie and recently had us gripped by her performance in the psychological ITV drama Our House alongside Martin Compston, is an up and coming star in the industry, but previously referenced her unusual name in an interview – explaining that it runs in the family!

“Tuppence was what my grandmother nicknamed my mother, so she gave it to me,” she said.

“My sister is called Angel, and my brother was going to be called Bubba or Sonny, until they let me and my sister name him Josh.”

She also denied speculation that she is related to another famous Middleton (Kate), revealing, “Unfortunately, there’s no connection.” Damn!

Downton is typically known for its warm nature, but it has always done its best to address some harder topics in the early 1900s era, like the First World War and the sinking of the Titanic. And the latest film does a grand job of depicting the time’s modern woman, something that is clearly important to the actresses behind the costumes.

“I think the show is really great for the female characters across the board,” Laura says. “It’s one of the things that audiences really love and the thing that makes it so special. And I think writing about women in this era, when so much is changing, is always going to be interesting because you can see them sort of strike out and do sort of different things that weren’t expected at this time.”

Tuppence adds, “Downton’s always followed what’s going on socially and politically in that decade. It feels like they’re really exploring every movement that’s happening around them. So this is no exception.”

As we’re on the gritty stuff, Michelle takes the opportunity to open up on the biggest challenge she found during production, which was filming some “emotional moments”.

“The biggest challenge was keeping it as my character and not as Michelle – the emotions,” she says.


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“I’ll say no more because otherwise there are spoilers but yeah, for me, when you’re on a show for this long, there are feelings that you have that are very much yours, how you feel, not just your character.”

For the end of our interview we throw it over to Joanne, who despite clearly thriving as part of the ITV drama family starring in hits Liar and Angela Black, makes clear that Downton will always hold a special place in her heart.

“It’s just so lovely to revisit everybody and revisit the character, ”she explains.

“We’ve known each other a long time, on and off, we’ve been working together for 12 years and some of the crew have been with us from the beginning.

“So it is just a big family. And we do have a ridiculous amount of fun.”

Downton Abbey: a new era is out in cinemas now.





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