For millions of Downton Abbey fans, Michelle Dockery will always be Lady Mary Crawley, Hugh Bonneville is her father, Lord Robert, and Kevin Doyle is the kind footman, Molesley.
But, sadly, after Sunday’s finale of the British drama, these actors must move on to other things and fans have to accept their new roles. And one thing is for certain: none of the jobs these actors have chosen are anything like Downton Abbey, according to a roundup by the Associated Press.
The wise and kind lady’s maid to Mary Crawley is played by Joanne Froggatt. Though in Downtown Abbey, her husband John and she both spent some time behind bars, accused of crimes they didn’t commit, nothing can prepare fans for Froggatt’s new role: as a 19th century serial killer.
PBS will air the two-part drama Dark Angel this year, and tags the show with the clever and spine-tingling description “dispensing death from the spout of a warm teapot.” Froggatt will play poisoner Mary Ann Cotton, who was Britain’s first serial killer and relied on her beauty, charm, and allure to lace her victims’ tea with arsenic and collect their life insurance policies.
Usually poised, gorgeously dressed, and cool as a cucumber, Michelle Dockery is leaving Mary Crawley behind to become Letty, a thief and con artist in TNT’s summer series Good Behavior. She’s not even keeping her English accent — she’ll play an American. The network has already released a trailer, and it’s quite jarring to see the actress without her bob and bejeweled frocks. The new series follows her character after she gets out of jail. After she learns about a hitman’s assignment to kill another woman, she sets out to stop it.
Laura Carmichael’s Edith Crawley has Downton Abbey‘s worst luck, perhaps — jilted at the altar by one man only to be widowed before she even marries another — everyone is hoping that her third love affair works out in the finale. Her next role is in a movie with Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo called A United Kingdom, set in 1940s England. She is a sister once again, and introduces said sister to her future husband — a prince from Botswana. The story of the interracial love affair between Prince Seretse Khama and English girl Ruth Williams was a huge scandal at the time.
Everyone’s favorite romantic chauffeur turned Downton Abbey estate manager, Irishman Branson, is leaving the grounds for the gritty world of hitmen. In Hunter’s Prayer, he’ll play the former employer of a hired assassin, played by Sam Worthington, who bonds with the woman he’s supposed to kill.
After his role as Downton Abbey‘s favorite, bumbling footman-turned-teacher Molesley, Kevin Doyle will appear as a not-so-nice police detective in Happy Valley on Netflix, where you can already stream the first season. This is actually a BBC crime drama, picked up by Netflix, and debuted there in 2014. Doyle’s character, John Wadsworth, doesn’t appear until Season 2, which premiered across the pond last month. It’s nothing like Downtown Abbey. Gritty and suspenseful, Season 1 centers around a police sergeant whose daughter killed herself after being raped and impregnated. In Season 2, Wadsworth kills his mistress.
Sharp-tongued, middle class, and bestie to Violet Grantham, Isobel has fought, and won, many battles on Downton Abbey. The actress who plays her, Penelope Wilton, will fast-forward in time a few decades to play Pauline in the British series Brief Encounters, which is set in the 1980s. She plays a lonely housewife who, with four friends, starts selling exotic lingerie at house parties — house parties very unlike those hosted on Downtown Abbey.
Now, fans may chose not to watch their beloved Downton Abbey actors shed their former roles for new ones, but it must be done.
“Anybody who’s watched and loved Downton is going to remember these characters for the rest of their lives,” executive producer Gareth Naeme said. But the cast “can’t put a pin in their career and say that’s it.”
British actors in particular like to shake things up and not replicate former roles, which is why Froggatt will likely never play a lady’s maid again. She explained why she decided to follow-up Anna with a serial killer.
“After playing a role that you’ve loved playing for years, there is a certain part of you that goes, ‘I fancy doing something a bit different.”
[Photo by Dutourdumonde Photography/Shutterstock]