Michelle Dockery has said she feels Downton Abbey fans have followed the franchise for the last 12 years as they find it “comforting” and the new film will be like “seeing old friends again”.
The actress, who plays Lady Mary, is reprising her role for the upcoming film sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era alongside series stalwarts including Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
The highly-anticipated cinematic return of the period drama will see the beloved characters go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa as they try to escape a film crew at Downton.
Dockery told the PA news agency on the red carpet for the film’s world premiere in central London that she thinks the period drama’s appeal came down to “lots of things”.
She said: “I feel like I have a different answer for it every time but ultimately I think people find it really comforting.
“I think it’s like seeing old friends again.”
Downton Abbey began life as a TV series, airing on ITV from 2010 to 2015 and following the fortunes of the aristocratic Crawley family and their downstairs servants at a Yorkshire country estate.
The first film, released in 2019, followed a royal visit to the Crawley family and Downton staff.
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, also reflected on the franchise’s longevity with fans.
She told PA: “I think it’s a real escape for them, especially in this time, when every news story seems to be more depressing than the last.
“This is a movie that just takes you in its arms and embraces you and gives you a little bit of a reprieve.”
The characters will see the outside world coming into Downton as a silent film star, played by Dominic West, comes to shoot a movie at the stately home.
McGovern added that the film crew moving into Downton was an element of the “real world knocking on the door” but in a manner that is “fun and entertainment” rather than the “wheels of history” encroaching.
The new Downton Abbey film will also see Laura Carmichael and Joanne Froggatt reprise their roles, while West, Laura Haddock and Hugh Dancy are new additions to the cast.
Downton Abbey: A New Era is released in UK cinemas on April 29.