SPOILER ALERT! If you’re a Downton Abbey fan who hasn’t seen season 3, you may want to stop reading now.
After speculation that Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew, would not return for season 4, the actor has made it official. He spoke of his exit to the London Telegraph, which — seriously, stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled! — was a plot point in the Christmas special that aired last night in the U.K. and is “reducing a nation to tears of dismay and disbelief.” To find out what happens, read the interview. And here’s a Daily Mail recap, but WARNING!, it will spoil other major season 3 plot points for you as well.
Stevens said he made the decision to leave the show before season 3 began filming. “We were always optioned for three years…. 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 said. “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.”
UPDATE: In a statement obtained by EW, Stevens says: “I loved the time I spent on Downton, and I am so thankful to Julian [Fellowes] and the fantastic cast and crew whom I will miss dearly. I am grateful for their support and also the support of the wonderful Downton audience. I now look forward to joining the legions of Downton fans in enjoying future series.”