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'Downton Abbey: A New Era is true escapism'

Downton Abbey: A New Era is true escapism

Mumbai, May 27 (PTI) "Downton Abbey" star Laura Carmichael says one of the reasons for the series' massive global success lies in its world of "fundamentally good" characters, who are comforting to watch on screen.

Set in the early 20th century, the British historical drama series ran for six seasons, chronicling the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants.

Following its end in 2015, the series saw the film adaptation "Downton Abbey", with much of the original cast returning.

Ahead of the India release of the film's sequel "Downton Abbey: A New Era" on June 3, Carmichael-- who features in it as Edith Pelham, Marchioness of Hexham-- said the movie carries the essence of the series: of endearing characters trying to be their best.

"One of the things that I love about this film is that it's true escapism. It packs you in a world where people are fundamentally good and trying to do their best. That has carried through the series and into this film.

"It's so warm and comforting to spend time with so many different characters, who aren't perfect, but are trying their best. There's something really comforting and universal about wanting to see that on screen," the actor said in a virtual press conference.

Carmichael was joined by her co-stars Allen Leech and Tuppence Middleton for the special press event.

"Downton Abbey: A New Era" is directed by Simon Curtis and follows the grand journey of the Crawleys to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess' newly inherited villa.

Leech, who has featured in all seasons of the show and returns as Tom Branson in the sequel, credited the success of "Downton Abbey" to its creator Julian Fellowes' rich, layered writing.

"What Julian does brilliantly is that he creates a world where either you can love or loathe anyone of the 22 main characters. Each character has such an independent and distinct voice. I often hear, especially from men whose wives watch the show, that 'I didn't want to get invested but now I can't help'.

"That seems to be a common thread. The way the characters are written, people are either attracted to loving them or want to see them survive or thrive. That's the gift that Julian gave us with his writing," he added.

Middleton, who joined the world of "Downton Abbey" with the first film in 2019 as Lucy Smith, said returning for the sequel was "great fun".

"For me it is such a novelty. I don't have the experience of all of the seasons behind me, so it is my first time coming back to it. It is exciting and nice to come to something so established. You know what to expect, you know everyone's welcoming and nice. It was great fun," she added.

The film features an ensemble including Nathalie Baye, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith, returning as the fan-favourite character Lady Violet, Dowager Countess.

For Carmichael and Leech, associated with "Downton Abbey" since 2010, joining its world again for the latest instalment was homecoming. The film went into production in April 2021.

"It's such a cliche, but it does feel like coming home, being reunited with family and friends, it's really joyful! One of the main challenges which made it even more exciting was filming through COVID. Getting tested everyday, being extremely careful, living in a bubble. It made it magical because we were together and kept going," Carmichael said.

Leech said the team worked as a family to ensure they finish the shoot amid the pandemic hassle free.

"When we finished the last movie and even the end of the whole season, we were like, 'Well that's it, it is all done now'. But every time we get a chance to come back together, we are like, 'Well, hello!'

"So it always feels like a surprise and a treat, especially with all the issues with COVID, if we would be able to film it at all... There was a sense of community where everyone came together to make sure that we get the film finished," he added.

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