Making movie sequels of popular television shows has become a cottage industry recently. From The Walking Dead to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries to Deadwood, big-screen follow-ups to popular series seem to be everywhere. But none so far has shown the popularity of the forthcoming Downton Abbey movie. With pre-sales outpacing Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, it seems like everyone is rushing to return to Downton. But who will be there when they arrive? This new Downton Abbey movie clip gives viewers a look at the story's latest antagonist.
One reason fans are so eager to return to Downton Abbey is the love they have for the characters. From the upstairs Crawley family to the downstairs servants, it seems like everyone has a favorite. But no one looms larger in the Grantham pantheon than the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith. Mother to the current Earl of Grantham, Robert (Hugh Bonneville), her quick and biting wit has been a staple of the series. Her fights with the firmly middle-class Isobel (Penelope Wilton), Matthew's mother, were some of the show's most delightful scenes.
But over the last couple of seasons, Violet and Isobel came to an accord. Plus, Isobel married Dickie, aka Baron Merton, (Douglas Reith) and became part of the landed gentry herself. That means, for the new film, Violet will need a new sparring partner.
The newest clip introduces her new foil to viewers. Meet Lady Maud Bagshaw:
If Lady Bagshaw looks familiar, she should. It's not the first time she's played an antagonist in a major British film. The actress is Imelda Staunton, aka Harry Potter's evil Dolores Umbridge. (Fun fact: In real life, Staunton is married to none other than Jim Carter, Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson.)
She's not the only new character. "Smith," as Violet refers to her, is one of the new downstairs characters, played by Tuppence Middleton, who fans might recognize from Jupiter Ascending.
Violet may suggest she's heard a lot about Smith, but it's not the lady's maid who is the one making waves in the kitchen. That position is reserved for actor David Haig, who most recently was seen as Bill in Killing Eve. He plays the Royal Butler, sent ahead to get Downton ready for the royal arrival. Apparently, he's going to throw the place into a royal uproar with his demands.
But even with these new faces, the real reason to come back to Downton Abbey is the Crawley family. The show left everyone in a good place, with Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes married, Anna and Bates together at last, and both Crawley daughters having found love. But there's always been the question of what happened next.
Unlike the real-life Highclere Castle, the Downton Abbey house has yet to find that lucky break that can keep it going through the interwar years and the back half of the 20th century. It is unclear if the film will indeed include something like that, an assurance that the family can hold on to the estate through the next generation. But surely, a visit from the King and Queen can't hurt in that regard.
The Downton Abbey movie arrives in theaters on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.