How Downton Abbey: A New Era Hinted at the Off-Screen Relationship Between Two of Its Stars

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Downton Abbey is famous for its love stories - from the tragic tale of Mary and Matthew, to the often-tested relationship between Anna and Bates, to Tom Branson's second chance at happiness with Lucy Smith.
What's less well known, however, is how the romance sometimes carries on off-screen. The franchise is at least partially responsible for a castmate pairing: Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith Pelham, met and fell in love on set with her co-star Michael Fox, who plays servant Andy Parker. And the latest movie hints at another relationship between beloved Downton Abbey actors Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton.
Video: A love letter to Maggie Smith with the 'Downton Abbey' cast
Carter, who has portrayed the steadfast if stuffy butler Mr. Carson since the beginning of the series, is married in real life to Staunton, the Harry Potter, who appeared in the first Downton film as Maud Bagshaw, a distant relative of Lord Grantham pretty secret past. Staunton returns in the second film, and she and Carter share a scene (below) that highlights their marital status. After meeting in a hat shop in the south of France, Lady Maud and Carson are embarrassingly mistaken for a couple.
"It was great because they are mistaken for a married couple. In fact, they are a married couple,” says director Simon Curtis. "So, there's kind of an inside joke, but it wasn't too indulgent."
While Carter and Staunton have acted together before - they both appeared in 1998's Shakespeare in Love, for example - they didn't have many scenes in common in the first Downton film.
"We sat across from each other at a dining table, but we never spoke in the first film," Carter tells T&C. So going back and forth in the hat shop is a "treat".
"It was just a quick cheeky little scene with the French hat seller. It was nice but very fast.”
How would he describe his wife as an actress? He simply says she's "the best in the business."
Downton Abbey: A New Era is available to stream and buy digitally now on Peacock. The film will be released July 5 on Blu-ray and DVD with a special Collector's Edition that includes bonus content. A gift set containing the Blue-Ray + DVD as well as vintage postcards, a photo book and other collectibles is available here.
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