See Photos of the “Downton Abbey” Cast Then and Now
It’s hard to believe the world of “Downton Abbey” has been on our screens for over a decade! Since the British historical drama began in 2010, we’ve seen the aristocratic Crawleys, their servants, and their friends live through 15 years of major change, over the course of six TV seasons and two feature films (so far).
Along the way, the cast of actors have undergone some major changes in their careers, too! While the show has had a bit of a revolving-door cast, with several actors departing or joining midway through, there are some main players who have been with us the whole time. While we’re feeling nostalgic with the release of “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” let’s take a look back at where our favourite “Downton” stars were back in 2010 and where they’ve ended up now!
Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) Then
Prior to being cast as Robert, the Earl of Grantham, Bonneville worked steadily in British TV and movies. He was probably best known for his comic characters, like his role as Bernie in “Notting Hill.”
Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) Now
Bonneville has continued a wide-ranging career in the years since “Downton” took off. His biggest role to date, outside of “Downton,” has been as the voice of Paddington Bear in the 2014 “Paddington” movie and its 2017 sequel.
Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley) Then
McGovern came into her role as Cora, the Countess of Grantham, with some serious honors under her belt already. In 1981, she earned her first Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her role in “Ragtime.” She also starred in several other high-profile movies, and in 2007, she formed a band, Sadie and the Hotheads.
Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley) Now
McGovern’s role on “Downton” only added to her pile of great reviews, earning her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. She’s continued taking on roles in smaller movies over the past decade, as well as focusing on her music.
Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley) Then
It’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, other than living legend Maggie Smith. When she debuted “Downton” in 2010, she had already won two Oscars, a Tony Award, and four Emmys, along with a slew of other accolades, including the title of “Dame” bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II.
Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley) Now
Although Smith hasn’t done much TV work since “Downton” signed off, she’s stayed busy in movies, from wrapping her role as Minerva McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” series to quieter fare like “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and much more. Her most recent credit is the holiday fantasy “A Boy Called Christmas,” and she has at least two more movies in pre-production.
Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley) Then
Before being cast as Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest of the three Crawley sisters, Dockery was just launching her career with a handful of British TV dramas, mostly classical adaptations. She actually shared the screen with her future “Downton” leading man, Dan Stevens, in a 2009 adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw.”
Michelle Dockery (Mary Crawley) Now
Dockery quickly became one of the breakout stars of “Downton” and has tackled roles on the big and small screens. She took on several high-profile roles, including the leading role in the crime drama “Good Behavior.” Her latest project is the Netflix drama “Anatomy of a Scandal,” where she plays prosecutor Kate Woodcroft. Like her TV mom, Dockery is also a musician and has a musical duo, Michelle and Michael, with Michael C. Fox, who joined “Downton” in later seasons.
Laura Carmichael (Edith Crawley) Then
As perpetually-overlooked second daughter Lady Edith Crawley, Carmichael took on the tough task of getting audiences to root for such a complicated character. “Downton” marked Carmichael’s first major acting gig.
Laura Carmichael (Edith Crawley) Now
Carmichael has kept a bit lower of a profile than some of her costars, but she’s been working steadily since gaining recognition as Edith. She appeared in the Starz historical drama “The Spanish Princess” as the almost-royal Margaret Pole, and starred in the Australian thriller series “The Secrets She Keeps.”
Allen Leech (Tom Branson) Then
Leech made a splash as Tom Branson, the charming and rebellious Irish socialist who takes a job as the Crawleys’ chaffeur, only to find a friend (and then some) in progressive-minded Lady Sybil. He was already a rising star in the Irish film industry, with acclaimed roles in projects like “Cowboys and Angels” and “Love Is the Drug.” American audiences might have also recognized him from his role as Marcus Agrippa on the TV series “Rome.”
Allen Leech (Tom Branson) Now
Leech’s higher profile, thanks to “Downton,” has landed him supporting roles in a handful of major movies. Most notably, he played spy John Cairncross in “The Imitation Game” opposite Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, and he appeared in “Bohemian Rhapsody” as Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury’s manager and boyfriend.
Brendan Coyle (John Bates) Then
Like many of his “Downton” costars, Coyle had a solid career in British film and TV before taking on the role of taciturn valet John Bates. His resume included dozens of TV movies and series, including beloved adaptations like “North and South” and “Lark Rise to Candleford.”
Brendan Coyle (John Bates) Now
Coyle has continued a similar career trajectory since hitting it big with “Downton.” He has appeared in major movies like “Me Before You” and “Mary Queen of Scots,” as well as several TV shows, including a main role in “Requiem.”
Joanne Froggatt (Anna Smith) Then
Before being cast as loyal, big-hearted maid Anna on “Downton,” Froggatt’s early career consisted largely of British soap operas and TV movies. Her credits included the long-running “Coronation Street,” the BBC retelling of “Robin Hood,” a handful of true-crime TV movies, and several BBC radio plays.
Joanne Froggatt (Anna Smith) Now
Froggatt continues to work steadily, from movies and TV to stage and radio. Her projects have been a little bit smaller in scale, from thrillers like “Liar” and “Angela Black” to voice work on “Bob the Builder.”
Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) Then
Long before he was the Crawleys’ loyal (if uptight) butler Carson, Carter had carved out a decades-long and highly respected career in film and TV. He was part of the quirky ensemble in “Shakespeare in Love,” appeared in family movies like “Ella Enchanted” and “The Golden Compass,” and earned acclaim for dramas like “Cranford.”
Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) Now
Carter has continued to alternate between genres in the years since “Downton” began. He’s taken roles in everything from a “Transformers” sequel to crime thrillers like “The Good Liar” and more. In 2019, he was honored for “services to drama” with the Order of the British Empire (OBE). His next film is a still-undisclosed role in “Wonka.”
Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) Then
No-nonsense but good-hearted housekeeper Mrs. Hughes is one of the people who keeps Downton running. Prior to taking on the role of Mrs. Hughes, Logan lengthy career was probably best known, through her lengthy career, for her role as Lady Jane Felsham on the British dramedy “Lovejoy.”
Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) Now
Logan has had a slew of new TV shows and movies since “Downton.” Along with several guest and supporting roles, she’s starred in British TV shows like “Girlfriends” and movies like “The Last Bus.”
Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow) Then
As scheming footman Thomas, James-Collier has taken his “Downton” role all the way from villain to hero. Playing Thomas was his major breakout; prior to that, his most notable credit was an arc on the British soap “Coronation Street.”