Behind-the-scenes on Downton Abbey: The Movie! Lady Mary larks around with her screen father, the cast snap selfies and King George does butler Carson’s bidding
Director Michael Engler has allowed Downton Abbey fans a behind-the-scenes peek into the goings-on on set of the TV series’ forthcoming big-screen adaptation.
Exquisite stills have been released ahead of the movie’s premiere this week, detailing what the cast and crew got up to when the cameras weren’t rolling, between takes.
The images – which are to be published in an accompanying book when the film is released this Friday – see the likes of Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Penelope Wilton and Michelle Dockery in candid moments as they film the highly-anticipated continuation of the hit ITV drama.
Backstage pass: Director Michael Engler has allowed Downton Abbey fans a behind-the-scenes peek into the goings on on set of the TV series’ forthcoming big screen adaptation [pictured Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery as Earl Robert Crawley and Lady Mary Talbot]
Lovely candid shots see the likes of Michelle – who plays Lady Mary Talbot – leaning comfortingly on her on-screen father Hugh [Earl Robert Crawley] and chatting beside Penelope [Baroness Isobel Grey] in all their 1920s finery.
Anna Robbins, who worked as the costumier on the last two seasons of Downton, designed the gowns, with Michelle saying in a recent interview: ‘When Anna said she’d just been to Paris to find pieces for me, I was just chomping at the bit to see what she had brought back.’
Another snap sees some of the actors portraying the servants outside Highclere Castle, the location of the fictional Abbey, snapping a selfie together, clearly delighted to be back there.
Glad to be back: The cast delightedly snap a selfie on set, clearly thrilled to be back at Highclere Castle, where Downton is filmed [Phyllis Logan, who plays head housekeeper Mrs Carson née Hughes, holds the camera]
Michelle is seen waiting patiently between takes during a banqueting scene, which would take hours to film, with the food and drink constantly needing to be topped up for continuity purposes.
Faced with rich foods in the scenes, thanks to the household’s wealth, actors would in fact only consume watercress and cucumber, so as not to become bloated.
The Downton Abbey movie comes four years after the final episode aired on TV and follows a royal visit to the sprawling manor. It is set in the autumn of 1927.
A royal pose: Simon Jones and Geraldine James as King George and Queen Mary snap a photo of Jim Carter – butler Carson – with his real-life wife Imelda Staunton, who plays Lady Bagshaw
Kitchen capers: Despite the plot involving a domestic staff uprising, the actors playing the servants prove to be much happier off-camera
Location location location: ‘As the cameras pulled away, there it is, standing resplendent in its own cinematic time warp,’ said actor Jim Carter who plays Carson
Bedroom scene: Pictured is the crew filming a sequence in Lady Mary’s bedroom
King George V and Queen Mary, portrayed by cast newcomers Simon Jones and Geraldine James, will grace the Abbey with their company, along with new character Lady Maud Bagshaw, played by Imelda Staunton, who also joins the franchise.
In another on-location snap, Simon and Geraldine – dressed as the royals – snap a photo of Jim Carter – who plays butler Carson – with his real-life wife Imelda.
The pair rarely cross paths during the movie, given their characters’ very different class statuses.
Out soon: Downton Abbey – The Official Film Companion, by Emma Marriott (£25, Headline) is published on Friday
Despite the plot involving a domestic staff uprising, the actors playing the servants prove to be much happier off-camera in the photos.
The kitchen was not shot at Highclere, but at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. This was also the location of the cellar, a silver room, a servery and servant bedrooms.
Hugh Bonneville has already teased the possibility of a sequel, as he discussed the TV show’s hotly-anticipated feature-length adaptation with The Mirror recently.
The actor, 55, seemed very keen to return to the franchise, as he admitted: ‘When we started filming, I thought this is going to be a nice full stop, but there is such an appetite for it, I can see it carrying on. I’d never say never!’
Hugh added that stepping out on the film set wasn’t that different to making the beloved British TV show, as it just felt like ‘a bigger table.’
And of returning to the characters in a feature-length setting, he said: ‘Here we all were eight years later. As we looked around the room there were grins of “can you believe we’re here again”!’
The TV series, which aired on ITV from September 2010 until Christmas Day 2015, followed the lives of the aristocratic household during the early 20th century.
Earlier this year, Michelle couldn’t hide her delight at being able to return to her iconic role as she discussed the new film.
Hope: Hugh Bonneville teased the possibility of a second Downton Abbey movie, admitting there’s ‘such an appetite for it’ and he ‘can see it carrying on’ [pictured with Elizabeth McGovern as Countess Cora Crawley]
Coming back: Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield will be joined by some of the cast of the film, such as Jim Carter [Mr Carson, pictured]
Speaking to In Style magazine, she said: ‘Three years, but it felt like no time had passed at all. [I realised] I’d taken some things for granted. Like driving up to that house [the setting for Downton Abbey], it honestly took my breath away.’
While Oscar-nominated actress Imelda said the experience of filming the project was ‘a nice box of chocolates’.
Speaking to The Mirror, she said: ‘It was like a nice box of chocolates. It was just luxury. I’ve done seven years of hardcore theatre, where it just beats me all the time, but this was great.’
Her character has a past with Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley – and they are not the best of friends.
‘With Maggie Smith of course there are going to be loads of one-liners,” Imelda said. ‘Maggie and I have great stuff. There’s no fisticuffs – but we don’t like each other. I’ve got things to do in that story. I have issues.’
Downton Abbey: The Official Film Companion, by Emma Marriott (£25, Headline) is published on Friday; Downton Abbey: The Movie is released in cinemas, also on Friday.
Imminent: The much-loved TV show-turned-movie, will hit UK cinemas on Friday
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