Bittersweet Goodbye from Downton AbbeyWith the final season of Downton Abbey over, we sat down with Michelle Dockery, better known as Lady Mary Crawley, to talk about her bittersweet memories of the show.
THE RED BULLETIN: What was it like for you filming the final season, saying goodbye to Downton Abbey?
MICHELLE DOCKERY: First of all it felt like we were just going back to work. And gradually as it went on, it dawned on us, that everytime we did something it was going to be for the last time. It really began to sink in when we filmed at Highclere Castle. It was almost as if we were giving back the castle to its owners, because for the most of us it had been our home for the last six years. It was funny, because sometimes at the end of a long day I couldn’t wait to leave and get out of the castle, but when it really came down to it, I didn’t want to go. So Laura (Carmichael) and I walked around the house for the last time. We went and sat on Matthew’s bench and cried. It was bittersweet.
What have you learned from six years of playing Lady Mary that you will take with you?
She is a very strong character and she is honest. I guess I will take that with me, her strength of character. And the clothes, maybe. She is very stylish.
What was it like working with Maggie Smith?
It was amazing, even right up until the last scenes I played with her; I still pinch myself sometimes when I think of the opportunity I have had to work with such a great actress. She is one of our finest. The whole job was such an education. Watching someone like Maggie work and watching her acting, it really was incredible.
How relevant was fashion on the show?
Extremely relevant. My character wore a lot of what looks like Chanel in this season. And I just loved the simplicity and elegance of the period. I have learned a lot actually about style and what suits me just in my own life from the show, because I didn’t really know that much about fashion before. And of course the fashion world from the very early days caught on. Ralph Lauren did a whole collection, which was a homage to Downton after the first series.
Do you have a favorite piece of clothing from the show?
I have had some great hats. Sometimes I think maybe we should wear hats more often. I like seeing women wearing hats at weddings. That seems to be coming back now. There are a lot of hats in this series. I wonder if it will catch on.
What kind of person would you have been back in the 20’s? Upstairs or downstairs?
Well I think in truth, my family heritage, I would have been below stairs.
But if it was your decision?
I guess Mary’s life is a great life. All those lovely clothes. I’d take that! (Laughs.)
Do you have any special memories from the show?
There are so many! The foundations of the character really, a lot of that came from that relationship with Matthew (Crawley). I loved that relationship and I loved working with Dan (Stevens). Some of my favorite scenes to play were for instance the train station in the second series, seeing him off to war. Those were some really special moments for me on the show.
Jim Carter (who plays Butler Carson) mentioned that when you came down the stairs in your wedding dress it was one of his favorite moments …
Yeah, that is a favorite for me as well. I love the relationship between Lady Mary and Carson. The moments between the two are always very tender. He is like a father figure in a way. You know she has Robert, who is her father, but she also has Carson, who is also like a father to her.
Looking at your current and forthcoming projects you are quite busy. There is a lot coming up. Do you feel you are done with period drama now?
For me it is about writing. It is not about the period or the genre. I am not really looking actively for anything in particular. So it is all about what’s in the material.