The star with two left toes. Why producers needed to name within the Military. And the twist that had the actors reeling. Imelda Staunton, Allen Leech and the Downton Abbey solid reveal the movie’s most startling secrets and techniques
It’s 1927 and the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary at Downton has everybody on tenterhooks, not least for the spotlight of their go to – the grand Royal Ball. Solely the best clothes and essentially the most glowing jewelry will do. And as for the dancing, properly, the King might be the clumsiest man within the room, although no person will inform him. He appears at all times to be treading on poor Queen Mary’s toes.
It’s 1927 and the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary at Downton has everybody on tenterhooks, not least for the spotlight of their go to – the grand Royal Ball
Matthew Goode and Allen Leech within the new Downton Abbey movie. The solid reveal all about taking pictures the film
By widespread consent, the belle of the ball is Girl Mary. And the way do we all know? As a result of in between takes of a gruelling 12-hour shoot for the brand new Downton film, Imelda Staunton (Girl Maud Bagshaw, the Queen’s lady-in-waiting) and Allen Leech (footman turned property supervisor Tom Branson), amused themselves by marching between the dancing , marking them out of ten.
‘We would walk up to the couples and start judging them like on Strictly,’ says Leech with a smile. ‘Michelle Dockery [Lady Mary] is an amazing dancer – if anyone could do Strictly, it’s her. And since the lads needed to put on lengthy socks for the dance scenes, you get to see their legs. Hugh Bonneville has essentially the most unimaginable calves.’
The worst dancer within the solid, it appears, was Simon Jones (the King), who ‘spent more time standing on the toes of the Queen [Geraldine James] than on the floor’.
The much-anticipated movie launches straight into the motion when Lord Grantham and his spouse Cora (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) study of the Royal go to to Downton Abbey, information that instantly pitches all the family right into a frenzy.
One one who is extra perturbed than most, nonetheless, is Girl Maud Bagshaw, cousin of the Dowager Countess’s late husband. It’s clear that Girl Maud and Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith) don’t at all times get alongside, for causes that quickly develop into obvious.
Harry Hadden-Paton and Laura Carmichael in an intimate scene from the brand new Downton movie
The thought of a film got here as a shock to Downton’s creator, Julian Fellowes, who wrote all 52 episodes of the drama’s six collection
Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery have returned for the Downton movie. Dame Maggie was the final of the 20 principal solid members to signal on for the movie, having beforehand frightened big-screen adaptation could be ‘squeezing it dry’
‘Maud knows there is going to be trouble when she arrives at Downton,’ says Staunton, ‘and she knows she has to stand her ground with Violet. They’ve each needed to combat their nook in life and so they’re each sturdy characters. They get to have a go at one another right here too, which is nice since you need a actually good tennis match.’
As matches go, theirs is certainly a Federer-Nadal ding-dong. Girl Maud is maybe the one character who can get away with telling the Dowager Countess, ‘What piffle you talk!’, though, as Staunton says, ‘Maggie quite rightly will always get the best lines, because no one can deliver them like her.’
Would we discover the formidable Dame Maggie as scary in actual life?
‘Yes, you would!’ laughs Staunton. ‘And what I love about Maggie is that she doesn’t care whether or not individuals like her. If there’s one thing she’s sad with within the script, she’ll say, “That doesn’t sound right” or, “Why am I saying that?”, and he or she’ll work on it till it’s proper and he or she’s by no means lower than sensible.’
Staunton is married to Jim Carter, Downton’s former butler Carson (whose sickness within the last season has miraculously disappeared) however insists that her inclusion within the movie was ‘a bolt out of the blue. I’d solely visited the set as soon as earlier than and there had by no means been any speak of me becoming a member of the solid.’
In actual fact, she and Carter, separated by the huge social divide of their characters, didn’t even have any scenes collectively. ‘Nothing at all,’ says Staunton. ‘He was at the other end of the dining room and I didn’t even get a look, not to mention have Carson pour me a glass of wine.
‘We rarely work together, so Jim and I got completely over-excited about getting in the car and driving to work. But I was very conscious of coming into his territory. The film is 90 per cent the regular cast.’
The much-anticipated movie launches straight into the motion when Lord Grantham and his spouse Cora (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) study of the Royal go to
Contemplating the thrill that has been effervescent ever since a Downton film was introduced final 12 months, there have been surprisingly few plot leaks
The movie has already offered extra advance tickets in America than Quentin Tarantino’s hit As soon as Upon A Time … in Hollywood
In actual fact, Dame Maggie was the final of the 20 principal solid members to signal on for the movie, having beforehand frightened big-screen adaptation could be ‘squeezing it dry’. However as producer Gareth Neame explains, ‘It wasn’t uncommon for us as a result of she was the one actor within the TV present who didn’t have a contractual obligation to return again yearly. She at all times saved us ready as as to whether she would do any extra.’
The thought of a film got here as simply as a lot of a shock to Downton’s creator, Julian Fellowes, who wrote all 52 episodes of the drama’s six collection and thought he had introduced the story to an finish 4 years in the past. ‘I deliberately wrote a last-ever episode, thinking that would tie up the strings and leave everyone happy. Then we had a party at the Ivy Club, everyone cried and that was that. So it was quite a surprise when a couple of years later the idea of a feature film started to buzz around.’
The excitement clearly affected the solid, who grew to become close-knit throughout their 5 years of engaged on Downton. Time needed to be constructed into the schedule through the preliminary read-through to accommodate all the cuddling.
‘We’d all simply actually missed one another,’ says Leech. ‘During filming, everyone picked up just where they’d left off.’
Contemplating the thrill that has been effervescent ever since a Downton film was introduced final 12 months, there have been surprisingly few plot leaks. ‘It’s been ingrained in us to not say something,’ says Leech.
Tweeting is strictly forbidden – when Richard E Grant tried to tweet on set he needed to be forcibly stopped – though actor Dan Stevens, Girl Mary’s late and much-lamented husband Matthew Crawley, is a serial offender, even when he isn’t starring in it. He as soon as prematurely tweeted a Christmas particular (‘that was big trouble’) and final 12 months despatched followers into meltdown after tweeting an image of him, Leech and Dockery with the caption: ‘Should Matthew have a moustache for the #DowntonAbbeyMovie..?’
‘He was trolling the fans with that one,’ grins Leech. ‘We both now live in LA and when Michelle came over, we all went for dinner, took the photo and posted it.’
Regardless of the code of omertà, Leech admits that over the last couple of seasons his character Tom Branson had barely tailed off, however within the new movie his function is vital. Not solely do Branson’s erstwhile Irish republican sympathies land him in bother, however after years spent pining for his late spouse, Girl Sybil Crawley, Branson lastly will get some love.
He’s seen within the movie’s trailer exchanging significant glances throughout the driveway with Lucy Smith (one other newcomer, Tuppence Middleton), woman’s maid to Maud Bagshaw. There’s additionally an attractive scene of the couple dancing collectively exterior a moonlit Harewood Home, one in all Downton’s new areas. ‘And that hadn’t even been scripted,’ says Leech. ‘I’d already completed all my scenes for the movie and had arrived again in London after I all of the sudden obtained a name saying, ‘We need you back tomorrow.’ I believed they had been joking, however one of many producers had an thought of filming a scene exterior, so I obtained the 6am practice again to Yorkshire, and Tuppence and I learnt that dance in an hour-and-a-half.’
Harewood Home is residence within the film to Lord Lascelles (Andrew Havill), who’s married to the King and Queen’s daughter, Princess Mary (Kate Phillips). The Grade I-listed pile close to Leeds was one of many stately houses initially thought-about as a doable Downton Abbey earlier than the producers alighted on Hampshire’s Highclere Fortress.
‘It was incredible to think that the real Princess Mary had actually been in the rooms and received guests where we were filming at Harewood,’ says the movie’s American director, Michael Engler, who additionally took cost of the TV finale. ‘We have one scene where Princess Mary has the Downton women over for tea. There were a couple of original chairs in the room that were far too delicate for us to use, but we left them in the background as they were so extraordinarily beautiful.’
The grand Royal Ball ostensibly takes place at Harewood, however the scenes had been filmed within the Marble Saloon of Wentworth Woodhouse, close to Rotherham. ‘There wasn’t a big sufficient room at Harewood,’ says Engler. ‘Wentworth had the space to do all the things we needed to do.’
Massive helium lighting balloons had been used to light up the ballroom scenes, offering ample gentle with out damaging the ceilings with their warmth. Round 200 costumes had been required for the ball. Girl Mary wore one of the crucial elaborate, an unique Twenties robe that costume designer Anna Robbins present in London’s Portobello Market.
WHY THEY HAD TO CALL IN THE ARMY
One of the crucial spectacular scenes within the film is the King’s parade, which was filmed with the troopers and horses of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, a ceremonial unit of the British Military. Whereas they’ve usually featured on tv, showing in each Trooping the Color since 1997, that is their first look on the massive display. ‘They’re just like the Crimson Arrows,’ says producer Gareth Neame, ‘they project Britishness. So it felt like we were a good combination.’
The King’s Parade took three days to movie final autumn in Lacock, Wiltshire, ‘We had to find an adjacent field so that it could be turned into an Army camp for about 80 horses and 125 troopers,’ says Neame. ‘We built stables, tack rooms, officers’ quarters, quarters for the opposite ranks and we needed to be cautious to separate the girls and boys into completely different areas.’
Though the King’s Troop had been taking part in a historic reserve unit within the film, says Neame, ‘because the guns and uniforms that the King’s Troop put on right this moment are mainly an identical to what a Yeomanry Regiment would have worn within the Twenties, they turned up nearly camera-ready.’
Whether or not Downton Abbey will shut the door on any of its well-known characters stays to be seen, though be warned – the movie comprises a shock that can rock audiences again of their seats. ‘Everyone was a bit taken aback by it, especially at the read-through,’ says Fellowes.
Staunton concurs. ‘You’re going together with the story after which… pow! However you’ve obtained to have some heartstrings being pulled.’
The movie has already offered extra advance tickets in America than Quentin Tarantino’s hit As soon as Upon A Time … in Hollywood, so with Fellowes having left sure ends open, would possibly a sequel already be within the offing?
‘We have started thinking about it,’ says Gareth Neame.
Staunton, nonetheless, as befits Girl Bagshaw, is extra forthright. ‘They’re idiots in the event that they don’t put together,’ she says, ‘because if this film’s a giant success, it will be mad to not observe it up.’
‘Downton Abbey’ is launched on September 19