With confirmation that the Downton Abbey movie has been green lit, it is making fans wonder how Downton creator Julian Fellowes can possibly get it all done with the number of projects he has on his plate. At this time, Fellowes was already working on the American series The Gilded Age for NBC and his new stage adaptation of the classic The Wind In The Willows. Add to that a world tour of all things Downton that includes some members of the cast of the show traveling around the world and Julian Fellowes is a really busy guy.
But even though Downton Abbey seemed to have closed its doors for good 18 months ago, the quiet chants of Downton, Downton, Downton, have not gone away.
The rumor has been around for awhile that a Downton Abbey movie script does exist, but many still thought it was wishful thinking to soothe those who were still missing the ultra-popular PBS series. Julian Fellowes has expressed that one of his huge worries is that he would write a character into a Downton Abbey movie, and then that person would be busy with other work. And to their credit, actors from upstairs and downstairs have all moved on to other gigs in in U.K. and in the United States. Actor Jeremy Swift who played Spratt, the dowager countess’ butler shared some buzz with Downton Abbey fans to keep their hopes up.
“It’s supposed to be happening – filming – this year, but it hasn’t been locked down yet. It’s just getting everybody in that same space and time. I think there’s a huge appetite for it.”
Michael Edelstein, President of NBC Universal says that right now, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition is in Singapore, but next they are bringing it to the United States, whipping up even more interest. But while Julian Fellowes and the other “creatives” behind Downton Abbey had a hand in this, it is in good hands, and so Fellowes can move on to other things.
“The [executive producers] had influence over the show — Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes and Liz Trubridge. We used the production designer and costume designer from the show. And then we worked with a company that helps imagine what these shows look like. And of course, we weighed in on everything. A lot of people really worked on it and weighed in.”
Edelstein confirmed that Julian Fellowes is working on the script, which he hopes will be in production next year. But he confirmed that herding up the cast continues to be worrisome.
“We are all very interested in doing a Downton movie. Julian is working on a script. The other piece is trying to line up 20 actors. Getting everybody back together is never easy. But the goal is to make a film.”
Julian Fellowes says now that his labor of love The Wind in the Willows is on stage, he is clearing his desk to focus on The Gilded Age, billed as the American Downton Abbey. Fellowes said that he is creating all new characters with inspiration from writer Edith Wharton. He claimed that through her novels, Wharton has explained to him who these people were.
“They lived in largish, simple houses in Washington Square. And into that culture came this torrent of money after the civil war. These people decided to come and spend their fortunes in New York and they started to build palaces up Fifth Avenue. Park Avenue became a great boulevard of New York. If you go up to the 80s, 90s addresses you can still see these palaces.”
Fellowes talks about rivalries between the two social groups in order to be the top of the heap, because there is only room for one.
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But while Fellowes is trying to gear up with The Gilded Age, he still has some excitement for the idea of a Downton Abbey movie.
“I know the cast are behind it and there’s a big audience out there. On most movies, unless it’s Spider-Man 6, you’re taking a punt. But it’s pretty likely the Downton movie will happen.”
But despite rumors, Julian Fellowes says that he has no interest in taking Downton into the 1930s.
“In the whole series we went from 1912 to 1925 and you can believably keep the same actors in that range – maybe with a bit more gray at the temples. If there’s a bigger jump in time there’s less believability in it.”
Are you looking forward to Julian Fellowes’ new series The Gilded Age? Are you excited about a Downton Abbey movie?
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]