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Dan Stevens explains Downton Abbey departure

Dan Stevens

Story by Jack Foley

DAN Stevens has been talking about his decision to quit Downton Abbey.

Just hours after his dramatic exit at the end of the 2012 Christmas special, the British actor – and nation’s favourite – told The Daily Telegraph that the decision had been taken in February, before he had even started filming the third series.

“We were always optioned for three years,” he said. “And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.”

He added: “It is a very monopolising job. So, there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”

Stevens departure came at the wheel of a car just moments after his character, Matthew, had become a father for the first time. It will have left a nation in shock, even though speculation has been building over recent months that the actor wasn’t long for the show.

But given the show’s profile on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s little wonder that several of its prized assets are now in such hot demand.

Stevens, for instance, has already found further success on Broadway, in an adaptation of Henry James’s Washington Square, called The Heiress, alongside Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn.

He refused to say what lay ahead for him, even going so far as to say that even he didn’t know. But there are numerous opportunities that the actor labelled as “exciting”.

He also hopes to put some distance between himself and the type of character he played on Downton so as to avoid typecasting and to extend his range. Morris Townsend, his character in The Heiress, is the first step towards that and he’s already hanging in some pretty lofty circles.

We can’t help but wish him every success.

Read the full Daily Telegraph interview

Related: Read our review of the Downton Christmas special

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