Clips were shown but no real secrets were revealed when Masterpiece presented Downton Abbey season five at the 2014 summer Television Critics Association press event. Cast members as well as executive producers Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton were fairly closed-mouthed about what viewers can expect from the next season, other than to paint in broad strokes a season full of changes. “For every character, there are significant changes and plot points,” offered Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary Crawley on the critically acclaimed series.
Dockery did, however, discuss Lady Mary’s love life and where she is emotionally when season five commences.
Michelle Dockery Downton Abbey Season 5 Interview
Could you talk a little bit about the evolution of Lady Mary? There are times she appears a little commitment-phobic, and then there are times she’s just maybe a little picky.
Michelle Dockery: “Well, that’s true, and she’s very complex. I think that she’s impulsive, so she makes these decisions and then once she goes through with it, she looks back and actually realizes it wasn’t quite the right decision. And I think this series she is quite impulsive and she’s embracing her new life, really. I think she’s through the grief now. I kind of see series five for Mary as the new Mary, I guess, in a way. And so with that, she’s got a bit of her bite back that we had in series one, which I’ve enjoyed playing. It was lovely to do series four with playing all of that emotion and everything, but this series is a lot more fun. So I’m enjoying it.”
Last season featured scenes of Lady Mary and Branson helping each other cope with their lives as widows. Is that going to continue this season? How do you feel about those crazy fans who really want them together?
Michelle Dockery: [Laughing] “They are crazy fans. […]We find that very funny. No, it’s great. Their friendship is really growing, and to think that Mary couldn’t bear the idea of Sybil uniting with Branson in the beginning, it’s amazing how their friendship has evolved.”
Should fans who want to see Mary and Branson together hold out hope?
Michelle Dockery: “No. I think that rumor…I should kill it now. It’s her brother-in-law.”
Does Evelyn (played by Brendan Patricks) still have a chance against the other suitors?
Michelle Dockery: “What do you think? [Laughing] Well, where it left off with him I don’t think so. But, who knows?”
Can you talk about Lady Mary being emotionally ready to date and what she sort of enjoys in the various suitors?
Michelle Dockery: “I see series five as a very new chapter for Mary because she’s moved on. She’s through the grief now. She’ll never get over what happened – the tragedy with Matthew – but she’s moving on. She’s embracing the changes and embracing the social climate. She’s getting out more. She’s embracing the fashions. She’s enjoying herself.”
Does she really get something out of all the attention or does she just feel she’s entitled to it?
Michelle Dockery: “I think both. I think she likes the attention and she probably thinks she’s entitled to it.”
She comes into her own a little more each season.
Michelle Dockery: “She grows, and I think that’s the same for every character. It’s the same for Edith; it’s the same for Branson. You know, we’re growing up. I look back at series one and she was very much a spoiled young teenager and now she’s very much a woman. She evolves with each series.”
Can you give us a hint at how she grows this season?
Michelle Dockery: “She’s through the grief and in the next stage of her life which is embracing her responsibilities as a mother, as a co-estate manager with Branson. And she also is looking for love. She’s looking for the next love of her life, I guess, and a father for her son.”
How is the relationship between Lady Mary and Lady Edith?
Michelle Dockery: “I actually think Mary would like to see Edith happy eventually. I do. I think that their bickering is often to do with who is the sadder. They are competitive. They obviously were as children, and Mary is mean to Edith. She’s [mean] and especially in this series, actually. There’s some really nice moments we get to [be mean]. Me and Laura love it when we are mean to each other. As Mary and Edith, it’s more fun to do. But I genuinely think that she would rather see her sister happy than her.”
Just how difficult is that accent?
Michelle Dockery: “The accent that we have in Downton isn’t quite as clipped as it would have been because I think Julian felt we didn’t want to alienate the audience by having such a very sort of Queen’s way of speaking. We kind of toned it down a bit.”
What is your favorite room on set?
Michelle Dockery: “The staircase. Whenever we do scenes on the staircase, it always takes me back to one of the first scenes that Laura [Carmichael], Jessica [Brown Findlay], and I did when the three sisters were walking down the stairs in that first episode. And we got the giggles and could barely do the scene.”
Do you have any favorite things fans have sent to you?
Michelle Dockery: “It’s letters, really. It’s just what some of the letters say. I get a lot of young teenagers writing in, mainly young girls who look up to us girls in the show, and so that’s always a lovely letter to read from a young girl.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Michelle Dockery: “Maybe patience…have lots of patience, whether you’re waiting for a job or you’re on set waiting around all day.”
Does Downton Abbey raise the bar for you in terms of what roles you choose going forward? Are you more picky?
Michelle Dockery: “I just want to continue to play good roles, and I don’t mind what genre that’s in or where the character’s from. It’s the story that I look for and I guess an interesting character that intrigues me.”
What did you work on during your downtime from Downton Abbey?
Michelle Dockery: “There’s a film that I did called Selfless which comes out next year. It stars Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley and I play an American.”
– By Fred Topel
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