The Downton Abbey movie just got a bunch of more Brits. As per Variety, Imelda Staunton is the biggest name just added to the big screen spin-off of the beloved PBS (or, in the U.K., ITV) show, which ended in 2015 after 52 episodes but has proved even more popular in death than in life, if that were possible. Also joining are [deep breath] Geraldine James, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips and Stephen Campbell Moore.
These six will hunker down with the original cast — Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith, and that’s just for starters — who will continue the adventures of the fictional Crawley family and the servants who work for them. The show was created by Julian Fellowes, who’d explored similar terrain in his screenplay for Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park, from 2001. It also ended on a perfectly tidy note, with happy endings for everyone, but the customer is always right, and the customer demands more Downton Abbey. Who can blame them?
No word yet on who this new sextet will play, but surely one of the most plum roles will go to Staunton, one of England’s grand actress dames — though, like most of her countrypeople, she’s been most widely seen in the Harry Potter films, in which she memorably played the primly fascistic Dolores Umbridge. Staunton is also a regular in Mike Leigh films, most glaringly the title role in 2004’s Vera Drake, and is the voice of Paddington’s aunt in the Paddington movies. If her CV isn’t impressive enough, she’s also married, in real life, to Jim Carter, aka Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson, who was last seen entering retirement after succumbing to palsy.