Downton Abbey hit theaters last week and is now the #1 film thanks to their newbies and loyal fans…like moi’ topping the box office with over $31 million dollar gross!!! So, of course, I had to sit down to find out what it was like for the Crawley’s (Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville) and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) to return to their old digs, feeling on being in period pieces and two they continued the laughter in those ballroom and dinner scenes.
On gravitating toward period pieces…
THE CURVY CRITIC: This question is for Elizabeth. I spoke with you last night, where I acknowledged your former Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in Ragtime. You’ve been doing Downton Abbey for ten years, right?…and now the big screen version. What is it about period pieces that intrigues you as an actress?
ELIZABETH MCGOVERN : Well, that’s a very interesting question, because I seem to end up in period pieces quite a bit. But the fact is, I really don’t care about that. I’m really drawn to great stories and great characters. The fact that they happen to be in that period is irrelevant to me, because my real hope is that they spring out to a modern audience as if they are not in the period. What’s kind of remarkable is that people in that period are just like we are today. Just happened to finish reading Don Quixote, and I couldn’t believe that things written in that book are still so relevant today, because the fact is, people don’t change all that much. When you do something that’s set in a period, it’s always kind of funny convincing people that it’s actually the period…because people talk about the way you move, the way you speak and the way you hold yourself. I mean, nobody was there if it happens to be something said in 1801. We have kind of agreed understanding of what we accept as the way people moved, spoke, sat or ate and we want the audiences to believe that they’re in that period. So if we do that, then nobody questions it. But of course we might be completely wrong.
HUGH BONNEVILLE: Yeah. We actually had a historical advisor who was the sort of continuum of that or made sure that these standards were maintained. It was established very early on, that the women wouldn’t cross their legs and the men wouldn’t put their hands in their pockets. It was simple as that. Now, do we know that the girls didn’t cross their legs or indeed the men didn’t cross their legs? We don’t, but it was just decided that in our fictional world of Downton Abbey, that wouldn’t happen. And I suppose that did lend itself to a certain grace, then a certain look.
The dinner and ballroom scene will become infamous and the most talked about parts of the film. What was it like not to cut up while shooting?…
THE CURVY CRITIC: So, the dinner scene with with Royal with Molesley and that ballroom scene. There had to have been some moments where you cracked up and they had to redo the take. You had to. Especially the scene with Molesley.
HUGH BONNEVILLE: Well, normally those dining room scenes, we can’t wait to get out, because they take a long time…but that’s the one time that we actually just wanted to stay in the room, because take after take, he (Kevin Doyle) was just sublime.
ALLEN LEECH: It was a lovely moment where Maggie (Smith) saw him do it for the first time. She just turned, there was a bit of applause and went, well, that’s delicious. [LAUGHTER]. And I think it’s a lovely way of describing that moment. He’s such a comic genius and the ballroom was fun. I sat on the sidelines and and every so often, myself and Imelda Staunton, would go in and give our judging scores like Dancing With The Stars. We would go in, everyone would line up, we would walk up and down and then we’d go…well done. So everyone got to win at different stages, except for the king and queen. Now that wasn’t Gerald and James’ fault.
ELIZABETH MCGOVERN: They sucked.
ALLEN LEECH: They sucked. [LAUGHTER]. For royalty, they really couldn’t dance.
HUGH BONNEVILLE: And over the years, Elizabeth and I have had quite a few dances on the tv show. Diana Scrivener, who is our choreographer has always been very patient, because we often may start at the bottom of the class. But she gives us incentives with little badges along way and we finally ended up with gold. We were very excited. We got a gold star.
ALLEN LEECH: And you deserved it.
Well, whether you are a fan of the hit series or not, you will be swept away into the world of Downton Abbey. I totally promise you will have a bloody good time! Still afraid you won’t be able to follow along? I got you, check it out…