‘Downton Abbey’ returns with a silent movie and a trip to France

Twelve years since it first premiered, television hit ‘Downton Abbey’ is back with a second stand-alone film about the fictitious Crawley family and their servants running a sprawling English country estate in the early 20th century.

Set in 1928, ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’, released in U.S. cinemas on Friday, sees a film crew arrive at Downton as well as some family members travel to the French Riviera.

“We wouldn`t be coming back… if we didn`t actually get on and enjoy the company of each other`s characters and indeed playing the characters,” actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays patriarch Robert Crawley, told Reuters.

The film, directed by Simon Curtis, begins with Crawley`s mother, Lady Violet, played by veteran Maggie Smith, surprising her family with news she has inherited a villa in the south of France from a man she met decades earlier.
Led by Crawley, the family heads off to visit the property. At the same time, a film crew sets up at Downton Abbey, delighting the staff.

Having a film set within a film set was fun – and a little confusing sometimes, said Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary.

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“I remember a couple of times when I was confused as to who was saying `cut`,” she said. “Simon was like `we were still rolling, actually there. It was Hugh that said `cut`.”

Newcomer Hugh Dancy plays Jack Barber, director of silent movie ‘The Gambler.’

“It was a little daunting because you don`t know what the culture of a show is going to be and… it`s obviously defined by the people involved,” Dancy said on joining ‘Downton Abbey’.

“And it was exciting because I was just thrilled to be part of it.”

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‘Downton Abbey’ first aired in 2010, going on for six seasons and picking up numerous awards. It gained a huge following in Britain and the United States.

“We`ve had a very good run. I think we`ve been very lucky. We`ve kicked off a lot of careers of young players,” writer Julian Fellowes said when asked if another film might follow.

“It`s dangerous to say this, but I think most people who`ve worked on it have had a pretty good time and that feels like enough to me. But we`ll see. I don`t think you can ever tell really.”