Dan Stevens played Matthew Crawley in the British drama sensation "Downton Abbey" during the shows first two seasons. It had been widely speculated that he would not renew past the third season, but nothing had been stated publicly by either Dan or the show's producers.
During the airing of the show's Christmas Special in the UK last December viewers were shocked to their core at the manner in which writer Julian Fellowes, creator of the series, killed off the beloved character. His wife Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) had just given birth to their first born and presumptive heir and an ecstatic Matthew was rushing back to make the happy announcement to the rest of the family, when tragedy struck.
The last image that viewers were left with was that of a lifeless Matthew. Needless to say the fans were up in arms at the untimely and cruel ending to one of the main characters of the show, after all he was the heir to Downton. Dan Stevens suffered a serious case of backlash from furious followers, via social media. His Twitter and Facebook page were inundated with complaints, cries of foul and sometimes nasty personal attacks.
The unfortunate thing was that Dan could not properly defend himself, there were still months left until the new season would show on American television, due to broadcast delays. He was mum during the intercontinental airing period and fans were not happy about it.
Stevens has made some remarks which have been characterized as unfeeling by fans, stating that it was time to move on with his career. Right after the season aired in the UK, he had a very successful run in Broadway, he's a theater actor, playing opposite Jessica Chastain in the revival of "The Heiress".
Writer Julian Fellowes has said that the manner in which he made Stevens leave the show was the only possible choice he had left. According to his account, they tried to persuade Dan to come back for one episode of season four, but he declined.
Now Dan has apologized in a more heartfelt way. According to the Independent he told Radio Times that killing off Matthew in that way was not his doing and he had no input in the decision.
Dan Stevens stated about his decision: