Downton Abbey series finale: Cast partied hard after wrapping
'The tears were just flooding,' says Michelle Dockery
The final episode of Downton Abbey airs Sunday on PBS, but in the lead up to our last visit upstairs and down, EW is looking back with the cast members about the time they spent together and what (if anything) we can expect next.
First up, we asked the cast to share their memories from their last days on set and how they coped with their time at the Abbey coming to an end.
Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley): “The last day we shot a scene around the dining room table in a house that we didn’t normally shoot. I remember Allen Leech, because it was my last day, was teasing me all day and singing sad songs trying to get me to cry. I was determined not to, [but] when my wrap was called on my last day, I dissolved into tears. It was a little too much for me, so he got what he wanted.”
Allen Leech (Tom Branson): “I was kind of mid-wrap compared to everyone else. I wrapped in the morning on the same day that Hugh and Michelle wrapped in the evening, so I stuck around and waited for them to finish. Then we all went for a pint. I may have garnered a reputation after six years, but I don’t party alone. I’ll put it that way. I like to be the scapegoat for Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery. Laura Carmichael is a very close second to me in terms of partying, as is Michelle Dockery and Rob James-Collier. These trips are also famous for letting our hair down.”
Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley): “I was fine on the set. It was when I got back into the makeup chair after I had done my last shot. I looked around the mirror, and there were all of these photo references that we had used throughout the season, particularly the women’s dresses and hairstyles. I looked around. The makeup trailer more than any other place on set becomes the home to the actor. It’s the gossip truck. It’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see in the evening. That was the little haven. That was when I had a little spec of dust in my eye. Just for a few seconds.”
Kevin Doyle (Joseph Molesley): “The thing about actors is that we’re so used to being with a group of people for a certain amount of time and then moving on. We’re used to saying goodbye. I think we all thought we’d be able to manage with it. Then on the last day, it all caught us by surprise. It was very emotional, actually. Everybody was crying. Jim was one of the first. [Jim Carter walks by.] Yeah, I am talking about you.”
Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley): “I think when we wrapped at Highclere Castle, there was such a build-up to it. When we first started filming the season, it didn’t feel any different in some ways. You just go back to work. It took a while to sink in. When we left Highclere, I guess I wasn’t expecting my reaction to be as emotional as it was. Laura and I were particularly emotional, and we had a wander through the house hand-in-hand and took one last look. The tears were just flooding. I felt a bit sick leading up to the final take. I was so nervous and just couldn’t quite believe it. We partied that night and the next night and the next night.”
Jim Carter (Charles Carson): I was the most matter-of-fact. ‘Oh, we’re coming to the end. We always finish jobs. That’s fine. Grow up, everybody. Stop the moaning.’ Then when it came to saying goodbye — particularly to the crew — I found myself welling up. These great butch blokes on the crew started crying, too. It was ridiculous.”
Phyllis Logan (Elsie Carson): “We thought, ‘If Jim Carter goes, there’s no hope for the rest of us.’ “
The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.