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Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville reveals fans 'will miss' much-loved character as he confirms co-star's absence in third film

The Paddington star will reprise his role as Robert Crawley in the upcoming movie


Hugh Bonneville in Downton Abbey © Universal
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
Updated: June 25, 2024
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Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville has revealed that fans "will miss" much-loved cast member Maggie Smith, who will not appear in the upcoming third film

In a new interview, the actor shared fresh details about the movie and confirmed that Maggie will not be reprising her role as Crawley matriarch, Lady Violet, following her heartbreaking passing at the end of the sequel film. 

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Talbot 'Downton Abbey' Film - 2019© Focus Features/Kobal/Shutterstock
Maggie Smith will not be reprising her role as Violet Crawley

"People who've watched the show over the years and have loved it will miss Maggie Smith's presence," said the 60-year-old. "She doesn't step out of the shower and it's all been a dream, she is gone.

"But, I think there's so much warmth and fun to enjoy, and new elements as well — which I won't spoil — that I think it'll certainly be the best iteration of the film versions yet," he told Yahoo UK

Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery in Downton Abbey© NBCUniversal All Rights Reserved
Hugh Bonneville will reprise his role as Robert Crawley

Hugh noted that the new movie feels like a "lovely coming together of people" and is full of "thrills and spills". 

Chatting about his character's story arc, Hugh said "the usual" can be expected from Robert Crawley. "He's a sort of dinosaur trying to be led into the future reluctantly, and then eventually he stumbles forward a bit," explained the Paddington star.

LAURACARMICHAEL as Lady Edith, ELIZABETH MCGOVERN as Cora, Countess of Grantham & MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary© Nick Briggs/Carnival Films
Fans can expect "thrills and spills" from the new movie

"So as always, there's that rhythm of things changing with glacial slowness, and Robert finally accepting that things [are changing] — it's time to move the story on, so to speak," he continued. "It's got the usual tropes, if you like, of thrills and spills in a very Downtown way, which means spilling a tea cup pretty much!"

Hugh leads the star-studded cast of the new film, which is written and directed by Julian Fellowes and Simon Curtis. 

Phyllis Logan as Mrs Hughes and Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey © Joss Barratt
Phyllis Logan and Penelope Wilton will be reprising their roles

Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Robert James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, and Penelope Wilton will all be reprising their roles, while Lesley Nicol, Michael Fox, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sophie McShera, and Douglas Reith will also be back. 

Fans can also expect to see the return of Dominic West, who portrayed Guy Dexter in the second film, and Paul Giamatti, who played Cora Grantham's brother Harold Levinson in a previous Christmas special. 

Joely Richardson looked stunning in a long pink dress© Getty
Joely Richardson has joined the cast

Meanwhile, some fresh faces have joined the franchise, including Joely Richardson, Alessandro Nivola, Simon Russell Beale and Arty Froushan. 

The announcement of the third film was made back in May with a video from the cast's reunion as they caught up at a table read. 

Michelle, who plays Lady Mary Crawley, said: "It feels amazing and emotional. It's wonderful, all to be back together again. We come back together and it feels like no time has passed at all. We're so happy to announce that we're in production for the third Downton Abbey movie, we can't wait to see you."

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