Hugh Bonneville

The 'Downton Abbey' Cast: What Are They Up To Now?

(Photo: (Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television for MASTERPIECE)

It’s been a few months since we sadly had to say farewell to period drama Downton Abbey and the many popular stars that comprised its cast. Knowing that come this January, we won’t see the familiar faces of Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville or Maggie Smith on our screens every Sunday night still feels pretty surreal, and to be honest, is something we are all probably trying to avoid thinking about as much as possible.

But, even though Downton is gone (SNIFF), it doesn’t mean that we’ve said goodbye to all the great actors who played the Crawley clan forever. Many of the show’s stars have brand new projects in the works (many of which look markedly different from their respective roles when they were at Highclere). 

So let’s see what they’ve been up to, shall we? 

Watch: ‘Downton Abbey’ Stars Doing American Accents is Amazing

Allen Leech, Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville at a PBS screening. (Photo: Stephanie Berger/PBS)

The Downton Abbey cast has been out and about quite a bit over the past week or so, doing the press rounds in America as the US premiere date of Season 6 inches ever closer. (FYI: It’s January 3, if somehow you’ve been living under a rock missed this memo.)

This of course has lead to a lot of delightful clips and interviews, largely because this cast is just adorable together, but the best bit thus far has to be their appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, during which the chat host convinced them to give viewers a look at what Downton Abbey might be like if only it sounded a little different.

Watch: George Clooney Guest Stars on ‘Downton Abbey’ for Charity

We heard about this momentous occasion earlier this month, and now it’s finally here – the mega popular actor George Clooney joined forces with the mega popular costume drama Downton Abbey. This Voltron of cultural awesomeness combined for charity and its end result is sure to make every fan of the world’s most successful period drama smile.

Clooney appeared as part of a Downton skit for ITV’s Text Santa campaign, a charity effort which benefits such organizations as Alzheimer’s Society, Guide Dogs, Marie Cure Cancer Care, Teenage Cancer Trust, Together for Short Lives, and WellChild. Much like the BBC’s annual Children in Need event, the telethon features all sorts of fun, including celebrity hosts, pop stars performing their latest hits and a variety of skits and clips from popular network programming.

The clip, which features Clooney as the Most Honorable George Ocean’s Gravity, opens during the holiday season, just as Lord Robert Crawley has discovered that he’s managed to lose the family fortune.

Again.

Luckily, Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley appears before disaster can strike, portraying an It’s a Wonderful Life-style angel sent to educate Lord Robert about what his family and estate might be like if he’d never existed. Hilarity ensues.

Watch: George Clooney Visits ‘Downton Abbey’

UK network ITV will air their annual Text Santa telethon on December 19. Much like the BBC’s annual Children in Need event, it features standard telethon fair like TV presenters doing random and/or weird things, pop stars performing songs you’re probably already tired of hearing, celebs dropping by to encourage viewers to donate and all manner of skits and parodies based on popular programming.

And there’s not much in the way of more popular programming than Downton Abbey these days. But, when someone’s already done a musical parody and a full on two-part skit featuring Absolutely Fabulous stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, how do you top that? By adding George Clooney, of course.

Yeah, that’s not a typo.

Watch: New ‘Paddington’ Trailer Featuring the Voice of Ben Whishaw

The story behind the first live action movie based on beloved British children’s character Paddington Bear has been…well, a tiny bit dramatic. The initial excitement surrounding its teaser trailer gave way to a creepy internet meme based on the fact that live-action Paddington actually looked more than a bit like he might stalk you than cuddle. The film’s original voice of Paddington, Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, dropped out in the midst of production and had to be replaced.

But, apparently nothing can keep a good bear down for long. Paddington is back with an all-new trailer featuring the voice talents of its new lead voice actor, none other than the fantastic Ben Whishaw. (You probably know him as Q from the latest James Bond sequel Skyfall or as Shakespeare’s King Richard II in The Hollow Crown.)

Watch the new trailer - and hear Paddington actually talk! - below.

British Actors You Should Know: Hugh Bonneville

I’d wager a majority of Americans first became acquainted with this week’s featured British Actor You Should Know thanks to his role as Robert Crawley, The Earl of Grantham, in PBS’ monster hit period drama, Downton Abbey.

However, before he became the patriarch of our favorite English country estate, Hugh Bonneville had already built up a successful and varied acting career.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

All-Star Cast Joins Benedict Cumberbatch for 'The Hollow Crown' Sequel 'Wars of the Roses'

Rejoice, there’s finally some official news about the upcoming sequel to award-winning Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown!

The original four-part series adapted four of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – into a single chronological narrative, used the bulk of the same actors for the same roles across all the relevant plays, and starred Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons as three kings of England. The sequel is set to be subtitled War of the Roses and will adapt Shakespeare’s Henry VI (in two parts rather than three) and Richard III, the four plays that tell the story of the rise of the Tudor dynasty and the fall of the Plantagenets.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has already been announced to play the ill-fated King Richard III across all three plays (though his character doesn’t appear much in the Henry VI trilogy to be honest), He will be joined by a star-studded ensemble, led by none other than the great Dame Judi Dench (yes, really) as Richard’s mother Cecily, the Duchess of York, Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Keeley Hawes as Queen Elizabeth and Tom Sturridge as King Henry VI. Sophie Okonedo was previously named to play Margaret of Anjou.

Um, wow. Wow.

Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Read Children’s Stories at Hay Festival

Last week, BBC Radio 2’s The Chris Evans Breakfast Show ran a special competition meant to encourage children to write short stories. Called 500 Words, the annual event challenges children to compose a complete short story in – you guessed it – just five hundred words.

(Which is a task that, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, we all know I would fail. Badly.)

Paddington Bear is Getting a Movie: Watch the Teaser Trailer

Iconic British children’s character Paddington Bear – who is also pretty beloved here in America if my own childhood circle is anything to go by – is about to get introduced to a whole new generation, courtesy of a brand new live action feature film that happens to be stuffed with fantastic Brit actors we all love.

Yup, really. Time to start getting excited. The iconic bear will be created through the magic of stop motion animation and voiced by the amazing Colin Firth.

For those that don’t know, Paddington’s story originally began as a book series by Michael Bond, the first of which was released in 1958. His story goes like this: A small bear is found by a family at Paddington Station in London. Named for the station in which he was discovered, he’s a very polite bear from Darkest Peru who comes equipped with that amazing red hat and a dark blue duffle overcoat to which is attached the label “Please look after this bear, thank you.”

‘Twenty Twelve’ Lives On in New BBC Mockumentary ‘W1A’

Good news for those of you that loved Olympics mockumentary Twenty Twelve – it’s back! Well, sort of. Since the London Games are long past in our collective rearview, we’re getting the next best thing – a sequel series! The new comedy comes complete with several returning characters from the original, including Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as harassed executive Ian Fletcher and Jessica Hynes as PR whiz Siobhan Sharpe.

Called W1A, the new series will see Bonneville’s Fletcher take on a new role as the (fictional) Head of Values at the BBC. His task is to clarify, define, or re-define the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future, in particular for Licence Fee Renegotiation and Charter Renewal in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The show takes its name from the postcode of the BBC’s London headquarters and – given some of the real-life going on at the corporation lately, including the planned closure of BBC Three - art may end up imitating life fairly closely in this instance.

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