of series finales—a joyously light-hearted affair for most characters involved, especially the long-tortured Lady Edith, who closed out the show by
locking down a man, a better title than her sister, and a cushy career. (Respect.) Since the finale aired, there have been rumors that the ensemble cast might re-unite for a big-screen spin-off. (God knows at least one butler would welcome the work.) But in the event that a spin-off film never happens, series creator Julian Fellowes has kindly looked into his
crystal ball and offered fans a glimpse into several characters’ futures.
Charitably, Fellowes shares the fate of Lady Mary, the snooty protagonist who closed out the series with a shock twist: she has a heart. The character demonstrated as much by re-uniting Lady Edith with Bertie, and then actually refraining from plundering their wedding day with news that she is expecting a second child. Well, in an interview with Deadline, Fellowes forecasts that Mary’s business acumen will help keep the Crawley estate afloat, now that she’s taken over the business reins from her bumbling father.
“My own belief is that Mary, whether you like her or dislike her, is a hard worker, and she’s practical,” Fellowes explains. “I think she will employ the kind of advice that she needs [to manage the estate]. She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did, and she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters.” (Coincidentally, this is the same strategy Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury, used to save his family’s estate—a story chronicled in a recent issue of
As for the rest of the family and staff—Fellowes does not think they strayed far, and that future generations would still be inhabiting the same Yorkshire pile.
“My own belief is the Crawleys would still be there [in Downton Abbey], just as the Carnarvons are today [in the real Highclere Castle, where Downton was filmed],” says Fellowes. “George [Mary’s son] would have gone to the Second World War, and of course the fear is that he would be killed. We know that Mary is pregnant, so there’s going to be another child. As for the title, I don’t know where it would go beyond George, but let’s hope he gets through the war and has children of his own.”
(If we worked at a television network, we would greenlight an entire spin-off based on the previous paragraph and the lingering question of how George will fare as an adult, given his upbringing with
Although Fellowes does not offer the fates of the other characters, he does offer up another great trivia note by revealing the inspiration behind Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.
“One thing I very much enjoyed about Violet was that I had, in creating her, touched on an iconic figure of British families,” explains Fellowes. “There was a whole generation of women like Violet. My theory is that, when the men went off to war, the women had to keep the show on the road back home, and they did. As a result, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were these incredibly frightening matriarchs in all sorts of family situations, that everyone was half terrified of and half loved.”
“I modeled her on my grandfather’s older sister,” Fellowes continues. “And the thing about those women is that they were as tough on themselves as they were on everyone else, which is why you forgave them. They weren’t selfish in that way; they just had these incredibly high standards that everyone had to meet.”
Fellowes has previously said that he is keeping his fingers crossed for a film spin-off, so that audiences can re-unite with their beloved characters.
“I hope there will be a film,” Fellowes told IndieWire several months back. “I’d structure a narrative with lots of things happening, but we would need a kind of unity to make a feature, which is a challenge for me. It would be a bigger canvas riot could be a real riot, the ball a real ball. I would like that, I think it would be fun. But there’s a time and then everyone’s moved on.”
Claire Foy is photographed for her portrait as Queen Elizabeth II in full regalia, in what the Queen wore to her coronation ceremony in 1953. Foy portrays a young but steadfast Elizabeth as she assumes the throne at the age of 25.
A car fit for a king! Julian Broad captures a brooding Matt Smith (best known as Doctor Who) in his role as a youthful Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband. In preparation for the part, Smith gleaned inside information by talking to a former officer of the British royal household.
earned her a BAFTA nomination, is equally magnificent in her latest turn as Queen of England.
Vanessa Kirby plays Princess Margaret, the Queen’s late sister and her closest confidante. Kirby presents Margaret in a more vivacious and sultry light—a side of her character less exposed and commonly explored when depicting the royal sisters.
Smith cuts a dashing figure in Prince Philip’s ceremonial dress, complete with military medals.
John Lithgow stars as the indomitable Winston Churchill, whose relationship with the Queen (almost 50 years his junior) as prime minister was the stimulus from which the entire series developed. Lithgow trained for hours with a dialect coach in order to perfect his rendering of perhaps the 20th century’s most famed British orator.
The principal cast is photographed here on location at Lancaster House in London. Eileen Atkins and Victoria Hamilton star alongside Kirby, Foy, and Smith as Queen Mary (Elizabeth’s grandmother) and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Julie MillerJulie Miller is a Senior Hollywood writer for
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