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Downton Abbey film sequel: what's the future for Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham?

Dame Maggie Smith has played the role since 2010

violet crawley maggie
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
2 November 2021
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Like many Downton Abbey fans, we were thrilled to learn that a follow-up movie to the 2019 film is in the works. Despite the show's release being pushed back to spring 2022, production is very much underway so fans can be assured that they'll be reunited with their favourite high-society family once more.

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The news of the upcoming sequel has got us thinking about what the second film might look like and, in particular, who will be returning to the Abbey. One character many Downton lovers will be wondering about is Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham, portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith.

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At the end of the 2019 film, Violet's passing is alluded to in an intimate scene between herself and granddaughter Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery) after she reveals she's suffering from an illness that could likely take her life.

Violet utters the words: "Save your tears for something sad, because there's nothing sad here. I have lived a privileged and an interesting life, and now it's time to go. I'm leaving the family and the place that I treasure in talented hands."

It seems that fans need not worry just yet, as it's certainly a possibility that Maggie will reprise her role for the second instalment.

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maggie 4© Photo: ITV

Maggie Smith has played the role of Violet Crawley since 2010

Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator behind the period drama, previously discussed whether the Dowager would return, and whether her last words were an implication of her death. 

The writer assured in an interview with Empire last year: "We should remember that at the end of the film, Maggie was by no means dead." However, Julian also hinted that the decision was yet to be made: "You imagine Violet is on her way out, but that decision hasn't been reached."

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maggie downton 1© Photo: ITV

Julian Fellowes insisted Violet didn't die at the end of the first film

We'll have to wait and see whether Violet Crawley will survive, but Julian did also note that Lady Mary is set to take over the reigns at Downton. Speaking to Yahoo entertainment, he said: "She's the future of the place. Robert is increasingly taking a backseat, which is why I think the house might survive. It very much depended on who was in charge during those difficult years after the 1920s."

Julian continued: "I think Mary is tough. She's not just attuned to modern consciousness, but she also understands the tradition of those places. I like that combination."

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