‘Downton Abbey’ cast: See where the stars of the historical drama are today (2024)

The British television series Downton Abbey was an instant hit when it debuted in 2010. Fans loved the show and its cast so much that they demanded more after its conclusion in 2015, resulting in two feature films — and rumors of even more.

It's not surprising that many of the Downton Abbey cast members are forever associated with the roles they played on the iconic show, whether they were only there for a short time (like Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley for the three seasons his contract required) or for the full run.

It's unknown if there will be more Downton stories told in the future, but we know for certain that the existing ones are fantastic. Here is a look at the Downton Abbey cast, their place in the show, and what they're doing now.

01of 17

Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley)

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As the eldest daughter of Robert, the Earl of Grantham, and Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham, Michelle Dockery's Lady Mary Crawley is the heart of Downton Abbey. The show opens with Lady Mary and her family facing a tragedy that also opens up her world: Her two cousins, one of whom she planned to marry to ensure her family’s financial future, have died. Mary's character is initially selfish, but she's soon forced to grow, evolve, and nurture the person inside of her who cares about everyone else.

Scoring the role of Lady Mary washuge for Dockery, as she was largely unknown at the time. As she later told the Los Angeles Times, "I was living in this house in South London I shared with three other girls — it was like student housing and I wasn't a student at the time. And I remember I was in my bedroom and my agent calling me and I had to sit down. I just couldn't believe that I had been offered this role. It was huge. I felt like, in that moment, it changed my life, but I never imagined just quite how much it would."

Playing Lady Mary would ultimately earn Dockery three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination, on top of winning three Screen Actors Guild awards as part of the show's sprawling ensemble cast.

Since Downton, Dockery has had a few roles on TV series like Good Behavior and Godless — scoring another Emmy nomination for the latter — and has also returned for Downton-related reboots and films.

She married Jasper Waller-Bridge, brother of multihyphenate Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in 2023.

02of 17

Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley Lord Grantham)

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Hugh Bonneville had already enjoyed a lengthy career built in British television before he starred in Notting Hill (1999). By the time he was cast as the patriarch of the Crawley family, Bonneville was well-known around the world, though nabbing the spot on Downton definitely thrust him into the spotlight in a much more significant way.The role would net him two Emmy nominations and one nod from the Golden Globes.

Lord Grantham loves his family's home at Downton and is set on doing what needs to be done to preserve it. While he's sympathetic to the plight of his daughters — particularly to the fact that his oldest, Mary, can not inherit Downton and therefore has to marry wisely to keep the home in the family — he is a man of the times and largely leads his family as such (when he's not overruled by the women who vastly outnumber him, that is).

Since Downton, Bonneville has continued to work and thrive in Hollywood and the U.K., notably playing Mr. Henry Brown in the Paddington films.

Bonneville separated from his wife of 25 years, Lucinda Williams, in 2023.

03of 17

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley)

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If ever an actress has played a middle sister to perfection, it's Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley. Sandwiched between the responsible and glamorous Lady Mary and the sweet and empathetic Lady Sybil, Edith is intent on carving out an identity of her own, no matter the cost. Resistant to marriage and career-driven in a time when women don't have many options, Edith is a feminist inspiration who made mistakes, eventually owns up to them, and ultimately has the best interests of everyone she loves at heart.

"I feel so lucky to have played Edith," Carmichael told Harper’s Bazaar in 2022. "In a big ensemble show like that it is amazing to be given such interesting story lines, such a journey as the one she had. It's a gift to work on that show, and I don't think any of us are unaware of that. It's a real joy."

Since Downton, Carmichael has focused on exploring other parts of herself as an actress, including the historical miniseries The Spanish Princess and the Australian psychological drama show The Secrets She Keeps.

Carmichael also has Downton Abbey to thank for her personal life, too, having entered a relationship with her costar Michael Fox (a.k.a. Andy Parker) in 2014.

04of 17

Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham)

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Is there a Downton character that is more iconic than Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham? As the woman who launched a million memes, Dame Maggie Smith sizzled as the true leader of the Crawley family, whatever her son's rank might have been. While Violet Crawley begins the series as a formidable force who insists on adhering to the social norms and standards she grew up with, she ultimately lightens up — at least a little — toward the end of the show's six seasons and begins to see modernity for what it is: inevitable.

Smith, a two-time Oscar-winning legend with film and TV credits dating back to the '50s, hardly needed an introduction before joining the cast of Downton Abbey. While she is likely most known nowadays for both the role of Violet Crawley and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, she commented to the London Evening Standard, "I am deeply grateful for the work in Potter and indeed Downton but it wasn't what you'd call satisfying. I didn't really feel I was acting in those things."

Awards organizations disagreed, though, as Smith received the most recognition out of anyone in the Downton Abbey cast, earning five Emmy nominations (winning three), two Golden Globe nominations (winning one), and four individual Screen Actors Guild award nominations (winning one).

In addition to her extensive work onstage, Smith is known for her scene-stealing work in Sister Act (1992), Gosford Park (2001), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012). She was also one of the stars of The Miracle Club (2023) alongside Laura Linney and Kathy Bates.

05of 17

Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham)

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As the mother of three daughters in a time when women have little power or say in their own lives, Cora Crawley is focused on her daughters' happiness and their journeys. As an American, Cora is a novelty in her own home, coming to London in the late 1880s with her mother (and a wedding ring in mind).

Before joining the cast of Downton, Elizabeth McGovern was an established star who quickly rose to fame in the '80s, earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Ragtime (1981). She had further success in films like Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Handmaid's Tale (1990), and The Wings of the Dove (1997). She also enjoyed a series of roles that often merged the United States and Britain, such as when she played the voice of Wallis Simpson in the 2011 documentary Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters.

McGovern received one nomination apiece from the Emmys and Golden Globes during the show's early days. In 2018, she again partnered with Downton's creator Julian Fellowes for The Chaperone, about women finding themselves in the 1920s in New York City. But, as she told EW in 2012, she doesn't actively seek out historical dramas just because they're historical, despite what her résumé might suggest. "I don't actually really think about it one way or another," she said. "For me it's the story and the characters, and whether or not it's period is secondary."

McGovern has been married to director Simon Curtis (who helmed Downton Abbey: A New Era) since 1992.

06of 17

Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates)

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Joanne Froggatt is the first to admit that signing on as lady's maid Anna Bates on Downton had an enormous impact on her career. Froggatt told The Guardian in 2021, "I'd been working professionally for 12 years when I got the role of Anna and it hugely elevated my career. It was wonderful, but we finished at the right time. Now it's lovely to pop back and do the movies."

As Anna Bates, Froggatt enjoyed some of the show's most riveting, emotional, and heartfelt story lines that include the pursuit of love, marriage, and loss — all while tending to the needs of Lady Mary Crawley and the rest of the family. Her sympathetic portrayal earned her three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe award.

Since Downton, Froggatt has mostly worked in television on shows such as Bob the Builder, Liar, Angela Black, and North Shore.

She married James Cannon in 2012, though she revealed in 2020 that they had separated.

07of 17

Allen Leech (Tom Branson)

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Tom Branson begins Downton Abbey as one of the family's chauffeurs and ends in a position of enormous power and wealth, and the journey between the two destinations includes a love story and many unexpected twists and turns. Allen Leech's character is notably unimpressed by the pageantry of wealth that surrounds Downton, proud of his Irish background, and unafraid to stand up for himself and what he believes in.

Leech spoke with EW about the show's massive success in 2019, recalling a memorable encounter he and Dockery had with First Lady Michelle Obama, who relayed her own fandom to them. "We stood there and we were getting our photo taken, and it was at the end of season 6, and [Michelle Obama] said, 'I'm pretty sure you're fed up with people asking what's next.' And I turned to her and said, 'You better get used to that in January.' That was a pretty cool moment and that will always stick out in my mind."

Leech is still best known for his role as Branson. He's also been seen in 2018's Bohemian Rhapsody, an episode of The Good Doctor in 2020, and an Irish miniseries called The Vanishing Triangle in 2023.

In 2019, Leech married actress Jessica Blair Herman, with whom he shares two children.

08of 17

Rob James-Collier (Thomas Barrow)

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From the start of the series, Rob James-Collier's junior butler Thomas Barrow is intense, focused, and at times crass and dramatic. He's worked at the home for more than a decade by the time viewers first meet him, and he's loyal to Downton and its family nearly to a fault. Barrow is hoping to work his way up to the position of valet, one that he almost secures until Lord Crawley brings in John Bates to fill the job instead.

As a gay man in a time that's not receptive to whom and how he loves, Barrow is forced to pretend to be someone he's not — and he takes desperate actions in pursuit of a peace that's difficult to attain.

"He's flipped in the series from being thede factobad guy to [exploring] why he's the bad guy," James-Collier told EW in 2019. "[Audiences] root for him now, and it's gone from a hate of Thomas to a love as the audience has understood why he is how he is and that's all rooted in his sexuality."

Like many of his castmates, James-Collier continued to work in television following the end of Downton, including the four-part British miniseries The Inheritance in 2023.

09of 17

Jim Carter (Charles Carson)

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As the butler Charles Carson, who is mostly known only by his last name, Jim Carter brought a sense of dependability and security to the show. Having previously joined the staff at Downton at age 19 as the Second Footman, he steadily worked his way up to the lofty title he holds when the series begins.

Carson is arguably one of the closest people to Lord Grantham, and thus has incredible insight into the goings-on of nearly every aspect of the home he loves and tends to. He has great pride in his work, which left little time for a personal life — though that changes in later seasons, much to the delight of Downton's fans.

Following Downton — for which he earned four Emmy nominations — Carter lent his trademark baritone voice to films like Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) and The Sea Beast (2022), and appeared in 2023's Wonka.

He has been married to Imelda Staunton since 1982, and they share a daughter, Bessie Carter, who has followed in her parents' acting footsteps.

10of 17

Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil Crawley)

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As the youngest daughter ofRobert and Cora Crawley, Sybil is allowed to experience life at a somewhat more lighthearted pace than her older sisters. But this doesn't mean Sybil isn't serious; in fact, of the three daughters, she is the most politically motivated and insists on treating the people who work at Downton as equals. When Sybil begins to develop feelings for the family's chauffeur, Thomas Branson, her parents aren't quite sure what to do, but the relationship that follows is one for the books (seriously: have your tissues ready).

Jessica Brown Findlay later told The Times she wasn't prepared for what the series would bring to her life. "Downton exploded in a way I wasn't ready for. For my mental health I needed to keep it more low-key. I would have got lost in Hollywood," she said. "The idea of eventually having that kind of success is exciting, but I'd like to have it in my 30s or 40s because it would be in perspective. Earlier, it would have destroyed me."

Since Downton, Brown Findlay has starred in films such as Winter's Tale (2014) and Victor Frankenstein (2015) and in TV series including Harlots and Brave New World.

She married fellow actor Ziggy Heath in 2020.

11of 17

Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason)

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Sophie McShera's Daisy Mason, who begins the series as a maid but works her way up in the kitchen, is the young widow of William Mason. Daisy often finds herself being bossed around rather harshly by the manor's head cook, Mrs. Patmore, and much of her character development is in learning to stand up for herself without losing the core of who she is.

Downton remains McShera's biggest credit to date, though eagle-eyed fans might have spotted her as Miss Graham in two episodes of The Queen’s Gambit. She also had film roles in 2015's Cinderella and 2019's The Personal History of David Copperfield. In 2023, she starred in the BBC miniseries The Gallows Pole.

12of 17

Brendan Coyle (John Bates)

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From the beginning, John Bates' entry into the home at Downton Abbey is dramatic. The mysterious man who walks with a cane takes the position of Robert Crawley's valet, a role that Thomas Barrow was also vying for. As one of the closest people to Lord Grantham, Bates is also the eyes, ears, and heart of the home.

Although many of his colleagues at Downton try to remove him from his post, Bates eventually wins over nearly everyone. Even when a legal complication almost results in his termination, Bates stays steady and true — traits for which everyone in the home comes to rely on him.

Brendan Coyle earned an Emmy nomination for season 2 of Downton in 2012, telling EW, "I had a real sort of lovely wave of emotion about it, which was very beautiful, and then I had to crack on and get back to work."

Coyle has acted sporadically since the TV series ended, including reprising his role in both movies. He's also appeared in Me Before You (2016), the miniseries Requiem, and Mary Queen of Scots (2018).

13of 17

Kevin Doyle (Joseph Molesley)

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Butler Molesley grew up in Downton Village and is quite proud to be associated with the home and its occupants. Assigned to Matthew Crawley as his personal valet, Molesley is left nearly despondent when Matthew eschews tradition and insists on dressing himself. Many rely on Molesley for work and life advice, and he notably tutors Daisy on her academic pursuits, a shift that ends up changing the direction of his life.

Actor Kevin Doyle has continued to work in several series since the conclusion of Downton, including Happy Valley and The Witcher, but his role as Joseph Molesley remains his most well-known.

Doyle humorously told EW in 2015 of one particular type of scene he wouldn't miss filming: "A two-minute dining-room scene could take a day and a half to shoot. There was a big cheer earlier this year when we did our last dining-room scene."

14of 17

Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley)

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Dan Stevens only spent three seasons on Downton as Matthew Crawley, the lawyer and distant Crawley relative who becomes heir after the death of two family members. Resistant to life in the castle and unsure if it's really for him, Matthew's path mirrors that of the real-life actor who played him and voluntarily chose to leave the show (well, without the unfortunate end).

Stevens explained his unexpected departure to The Guardian in 2022: "There were definitely creative itches left unscratched, genres I hadn't worked in. Three years were up, that's what we'd initially signed up for, and the appetite to explore further was too great."

Since Downton, Stevens has kept busy in both film and TV, including in 2017's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, 2020's The Call of the Wild, and on shows such as Legion and Gaslit.

Stevens has been married to musician Susie Hariet since 2009, with whom he shares three children.

15of 17

Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes)

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From the beginning, it's clear that Mrs. Hughes is enormously important to the home of Downton Abbey and everyone who lives in it. As head housekeeper, Mrs. Hughes rules the roost and is seen as an impartial judge for nearly every emotional situation that occurs throughout the show's run. But her co-workers and colleagues aren't the only ones who rely on Mrs. Hughes' steady hand and wisdom — the Crawleys are also utterly dependent on her for guidance and even hope.

Mrs. Hughes finally gets the love she deserves, after having given so much of it to everyone around her, toward the conclusion of the series.

Phyllis Logan has been seen in several roles since Downton Abbey, including an episode of Doctor Who and voicing a character in The Adventures of Paddington.

Despite the sprawling ensemble of Downton, Logan told EW in 2017 about how they still have reunions. "We bump into one another," she said. "We did have a meetup recently. Some of us were all there — 30 of us. We had dinner."

16of 17

Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore)

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As head cook, many of Mrs. Patmore's scenes take place in the kitchen, where she's often seen fretting about meals and bossing Daisy around. While she might seem gruff on the outside, Mrs. Patmore has a heart of gold and, like many of her colleagues, has given most of her life to serving the household and the people who live in it. It's nearly impossible to imagine Downton Abbey without Mrs. Patmore there.

Lesley Nicol told Entertainment Tonight about how Mrs. Patmore was "never intended to be funny," but her character was developed over time upon Fellowes noticing the chemistry between her and Sophie McShera's Daisy.

The role of Mrs. Patmore remains Nicol's most iconic, though fans have enjoyed her in many productions over the years, with voice roles in Summer Camp Island and Jellystone. Nicol also wrote a stage musical based on her life called How the Hell Did I Get Here, which launched in 2022.

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Lily James (Lady Rose Aldridge)

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Lady Rose is a cousin of Mary, Edith, and Sybil Crawley. She becomes more important in the series following Sybil's death, ultimately growing so close to the family that she names her daughter after Lady Grantham.

Rose was played by Lily James, who has experienced a huge career boon since joining the cast of Downton Abbey. She has most notably starred in Mamma Mia Here We Go Again (2018), Yesterday (2019), Rebecca (2020), and The Iron Claw (2023). For her transformative role as Pamela Anderson in the miniseries , James received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

‘Downton Abbey’ cast: See where the stars of the historical drama are today (2024)
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