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BuzzFeed: "25 Secrets About Downton Abbey Season 4"

The cast and crew spill some details about what’s coming for the Crawleys and their servants. Julian Fellowes’ British period drama returns to ITV in September in the U.K. and to PBS’ Masterpiece on Jan. 5 in the U.S. Warning: minor spoilers ahead!

At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, "25 Secrets About Downton Abbey Season 4," in which I sit down with executive producer Gareth Neame and cast members Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Phyllis Logan, and Joanne Froggatt to glean some details about what's going on in Season 4 of Downton Abbey.

When Downton Abbey returns with its fourth season, it’s February 1922 and six months will have passed since the death of heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) — who perished after driving off the road shortly after the birth of his son, George — and the Crawley household is still in a state of mourning. But, fortunately, the mourning period won’t last all season, for life must go on for Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and the other members of her well-heeled aristocratic clan.
“Series 4 brings in humor, drama, grief, romance, backbiting between characters, and underhand happenings,” series star Joanne Froggatt — who plays lady’s maid Anna Bates — told BuzzFeed. “It’s got everything in there.”

Season 4 will also have to reassure the audience after the shocking deaths of not one, but two beloved characters, which came on the heels of the horrors of World War I and the Spanish flu in the second season. The show’s executive producer Gareth Neame said Season 4 contained the “spirit of rebirth,” both for the Crawleys and for the Julian Fellowes-created British period drama itself. “Clearly, there’s a change of direction,” said Neame, speaking to BuzzFeed earlier this week. “In Mary’s life particularly, because she is so much a central figure in the show and Mary and Matthew were so central. When we rejoin the show, several months have passed, just as several months have passed in real life for the audience.”

So what lies ahead in the fourth season of Downton Abbey? BuzzFeed spoke with Neame as well as cast members Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, and Phyllis Logan to glean some secrets about what will happen in the halls of Downton.

1. When Season 4 begins, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is in a fragile state.

“Since Matthew’s death, Mary is really in such a living death at this point,” Neame told BuzzFeed. “She has completely given up on life and one of the central thrusts of the new season is really the rebirth of Mary and the way that her family and all the staff encourage her to turn back to life and find a new reason to carry on… As a beautiful, highly eligible young widow and mother of a baby son, there is a huge amount of potential of new stories for her.”

It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by many cast members as well. “At the start of Series 4, Mary is in a place of trapped grief,” Froggatt said. “She can’t bring herself back into the present. She’s just very closed off in her own pain. And so Anna is walking a bit of a tightrope with Mary to start off, because she sees that but, for the sake of her son George, she needs to come back into the present and start interacting with her child and not closing herself off from the world. She has to start to move forward in a way. It’s very difficult for Anna because she can only really hint at that to Lady Mary; she’s still within the constraints of being her servant and not allowed to overstep the mark.”

Dockery herself sees Matthew’s death as regressing Mary in many ways. “She’s reverted to that very cold exterior that she had in Series 1 and she says at one point that she’s not sure who she’s most in mourning for: Matthew, or the person that she was when she was with him,” Dockery told BuzzFeed. “That saddens her even more because she’s lost who she was; he brought out that sensitive, vulnerable side to her, the much more caring and loving side, and now it’s shattered. She had everything at the end of Series 3: she finally got her man, she gave birth to a son, perfectly wrapped up the legacy of the Granthams, and then she didn’t even realize that… her life had been turned upside down.”

Continue reading at BuzzFeed...

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