Ex-Downton Abbey celebs today from Game of Thrones star to Deputy Lieutenant

After first arriving on our screens over 10 years ago, Downton Abbey continues to enchant audiences around the world as new people discover the hit British classic week after week.

The iconic ITV show charts the continuing saga of the Crawley family’s estate set in a fictional corner of Yorkshire and charts a period of history at the turn of the 20th century.

Despite being set in Yorkshire, the series was predominantly filmed at the stunning Highclere Castle in North Hampshire, with the familiar house and grounds even open to the public to tour – making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country according to TripAdvisor.

Although the original series ran for 6 seasons between 2010 and 2015, a film adaptation soon followed in 2019, grossing £154million ($194m) worldwide.

A second film, Downton Abbey: A New Era was released at the end of last month with many of the show’s much loved stars reprising their roles as the characters we’ve all come to cherish.

But who are these stars and what have they been up to outside of Downton?

Hugh Bonneville – Robert Crawley

A firm favourite among Downton fans, Hugh Bonneville already had a slate of impressive work behind him before joining the cast, having appeared in movies such as Notting Hill and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein alongside Hollywood heavyweights Robert De Niro and Kenneth Branagh.

Yet it was his role as Robert Crawley, the Earl Grantham that propelled him to mega stardom, with the seasoned actor even receiving a Golden Globe nomination and two Emmy nods for his performance as the head of the household.

Since Downton came to an end, Hugh has reprised his performance as the Earl twice in both movie adaptations of the popular series, but fans may also recognise him from his performances as Henry Brown in the Paddington franchise, and as Lord Mountbatten in the 2017 film Viceroy’s House.

Outside of acting, in 2019 Hugh was even made a Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex and continues to live happily with his wife and son in the Southern county.

Jessica Brown Findlay – Lady Sybil

Before taking on the iconic and much loved role of Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey, Jessica originally started out as a ballet dancer having studied at the National Youth Ballet and the Associates of the Royal Ballet before turning her hand to acting.

While her emotional and tragic portrayal of Lady Sybil captured the hearts of many fans, the young actress has continued to carve a name for herself in the industry, with memorable performances also being spotted in 2011’s Albatross and 2014’s Winter’s Tale.

Outside of Downton, Jessica is best known for her role in the series Harlots, which ran for three seasons between 2017 and 2019.

The star tied the knot with her boyfriend actor Ziggy Heath in 2020 after dating for four years.

Laura Carmichael – Edith Pelham

Following her time on Downton Abbey, Laura Carmichael who famously brought long suffering Edith Pelham to life as she sought to find her happy ending, has continued to star in some firm British screen favourites.

In 2016, Laura took up a role in the TV series Marcella alongside Anna Friel, and also played a key role in A United Kingdom, an award winning film which saw her star alongside Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo.

More recently, Laura returned to star in both Downton Abbey movie adaptations, with fans eager to catch up with Lady Edith and her new family life.

As well as acting on Downton, Laura also found love on set and has been dating her Downton co-star Michael C Fox, who played Andrew Parker since 2018. The couple share one son together, Luca, who was born in March 2021.

Jim Carter – Charles Carson

As one of the most beloved faces on Downton Abbey, Jim Carter portrays the kind-hearted – even if stoic – Butler, Charles Carson, who has dazzled audiences since the show’s inception back in 2010.

A seasoned actor in his own right, prior to Jim’s Emmy nominated performance in Downton, he had appeared in several movies including 1998’s Shakespeare in Love alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes.

The star reprised his role in the first Downton Abbey movie alongside his wife Imelda Staunton and again in Downton Abbey: A new era.

He was also the recipient of an OBE in 2019 for his services to drama.

Brendan Coyle – John Bates

Best known for playing Mr. Bates in Downton, Olivier award winner Brendan Coyle also earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of the mysterious John Bates in the show.

During the show’s run, Brendan picked up three Screen Actors Guild Awards between 2013 and 2016, and was even nominated for an Emmy in 2012 for his work on Downton specifically.

Since leaving the show, he's gone on to star in 2016’s tearjerker Me Before You alongside Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, and also appeared in the 2018 hit Mary Queen of Scots.

Much like his character, Brendan has also had a brush with the law in recent years, with the star being banned from driving after being caught driving at three times over the legal alcohol limit on New Year's Day, back in 2019.

Michelle Dockery – Lady Mary Talbot

Prior to joining the Downton cast, London based Michelle Dockery made her debut in His Dark Materials back in 2004 before going on to receive critical acclaim for her role as Lady Mary in the show.

Throughout its six season run, Michelle was nominated for three Emmy Awards and even a Golden Globe.

She returned to reprise her iconic role in the latest Downton movie, but outside of the show has recently been seen starring in the Netflix miniseries Godless, where she also received another Emmy nomination, as well as appearing in Anatomy of a Scandal, and in AppleTV+ series Defending Jacob alongside Captain America star, Chris Evans.

Dan Stevens – Matthew Crawley

Since the very first episode of Downton Abbey, audiences fell in love with Dan Stevens and his character Matthew Crawley as he adjusted to the world of high society.

Yet despite a shock exit from Downton that broke the hearts of fans around the world, Dan has continued to enchanted audiences as he swapped the small screen for Hollywood in recent years.

With films such as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and even Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb under his belt, the star has become a familiar face to many households around the country.

In recent years he has even starred alongside Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams to perform in Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, a tongue in cheek film produced by Netflix that explored the appeal of the annual song contest in Europe and the colourful characters that it brings with it.

As the name suggests, it once again gave Dan the opportunity to flex his singing chops in the role, albeit on a far less serious scale than previous productions.

Outside of acting, Dan is married to South African jazz singer Susie Stevens, with the couple sharing three children together.

Rose Leslie – Gwen Harding

Although only on Downton for two seasons as aspirational maid Gwen who hoped to become a secretary, Rose Leslie made a firm impression on fans, with many sorry to see the star depart from the show.

Outside of the period drama, Rose is best known for her role as wildling Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The Scottish actress played the role for 3 seasons of the HBO fantasy show based on George RR Martin’s books, where she appeared on our screens as a love interest for Jon Snow played by Kit Harington.

Sparks flew on set and the pair began dating, before tying the knot in a low key ceremony in 2018. The pair welcomed their first child together, a baby boy, in February 2021.

Joanne Froggatt – Anna Bates

Downton Abbey first propelled Joanne Froggatt to stardom for her role in the popular ITV period drama; with her portrayal even earring her a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress.

Since departing the show, she has continued to star in ITV dramas, with her most memorable roles being in Liar, alongside Ioan Gruffudd and in Angela Black.

She separated from her husband, James Cannon in 2020 after eight years of marriage, and outside of acting currently serves as an ambassador for global children's charity Plan UK.

Robert James-Collier – Thomas Barrow

Prior to his starring role as devious footman Thomas is Downton Abbey, Robert James-Collier previously got his start on screen in ITV soap opera Coronation Street.

He starred in all six seasons of Downton Abbey and has appeared in both of the show’s film adaptations.

Since leaving, he picked up a number of small television roles before achieving widespread acclaim as he joined the cast of Channel 4’s comedy-drama Ackley Bridge in 2019.

Phyllis Logan – Elsie Carson

No stranger to the small screen, Scottish actress Phyllis Logan was already widely known for her work on mystery series Lovejoy before she joined the Downton cast.

Yet it was her her role as Housekeeper Mrs. Carson (née Hughes) that cemented her role as a fan favourite in the hearts of an entirely new generation.

She reprised the role in both film adaptations and recently even starred alongside Keira Knightley and Gugu Mbatha Raw in 2020 film Misbehaviour, which followed the events of the 1970 Miss World competition in London.

Elizabeth McGovern – Cora Crawley

Oscar winner Elizabeth McGovern joined the cast of Downton with an impressive slate of films already under her belt including Ordinary People, Ragtime and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Following the end of Downton Abbey, Elizabeth took a small break from acting to tour the UK alongside her band, Sadie and the Hotheads, before returning to her craft shortly afterwards.

Her most notable roles in recent years have included The Chaperone in 2018, and the 2019 television adaptation of HG Wells’ sci-fi classic War of the Worlds.

Sophie McShera – Daisy Mason

Another Downton alumni to have been snagged by Disney, Sophie’s most famous role outside of the drama was alongside fellow cast mate Lily James, in Disney’s Cinderella.

Playing one of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters, Sophie wowed audiences alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett in the heartwarming family film.

More recently however, she starred in pandemic hit The Queen’s Gambit, alongside Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomas Brodie Sangster.

Kevin Doyle – Joseph Molesley

A skilled performer on both stage and screen, Kevin Doyle has continued to act since departing from Downton, even returning for both film adaptations of the hit period drama.

In recent years fans may recognise him for his work on several British series, including Happy Valley, The Lakes, Coronation Street and The Crimson Field.

Dame Maggie Smith – Violet Crawley

Prior to joining Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie was a British institution in her own right, having appeared in countless much loved films over the years including A Room with a View, Hook, The First Wives Club, Sister Act, The Secret Garden and perhaps most notably the Harry Potter franchise.

With a career spanning almost 70 years, Dame Maggie has picked up countless awards, including two Oscars, a Tony award and four Prime Time Emmys alongside seven BAFTA awards, three Golden Globes and five Screen Actors Guild awards.

The acting heavyweight has most recently starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Lady in the Van, and can once again be seen on screen in upcoming movies A German Life, and The Miracle Club.

Penelope Wilton – Isobel Grey

Another staple of British cinema, Penelope Wilton has wracked up an impressive slate of credits outside of her Downton role, with notable performances in 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its 2015 sequel.

Most recently however, she is perhaps best known for appearing alongside comedian Ricky Gervais in his dark Netflix comedy series After Life.

Allen Leech – Tom Branson

While fans of Downton will no doubt recognise Allen Leech for his portrayal of chauffeur turned aristocrat Tom Branson, since leaving the show he is best known for his roles in The Imitation Game alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and most recently from his role in Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody alongside Rami Malek.

Off screen, the star married actress Jessica Blair Herman in January 2019, with the pair welcoming their first child together in 2020.

Lily James – Lady Rose Aldridge

Following her appearance in four seasons of Downton Abbey, Lily James went on to secure a number of high profile film roles including Baby Driver in 2017, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again in 2018 and Yesterday in 2019.

Lily is best known however, for bringing the character of Cinderella to life in Disney’s live-action adaptation of the movie of the same name.

Most recently she has been seen portraying Pamela Anderson in the Disney+ series Pam and Tommy, which charted the sex tape experienced by Pamela and husband Tommy Lee back in the mid 90s.

Lesley Nicol – Mrs Patmore

While Mrs.Patmore became a staple of our Sunday nights in Downton Abbey, it was Lesley Nicol’s ability to bring to life a charming and unique character that resonated with many viewers at home, something the star has continued to do, even since departing.

A regular face on US television series, Lesley has starred in a selection of fan favourites including The CW’s Supernatural and CBS’ The Odd Couple.

She even wrote a musical about her life with the help of songwriter Mark Mueller, with the pair performing it together at London’s Fringe Club back in 2017.

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