Hugh Bonneville & Elizabeth McGovern Interview – Downton Abbey: A New Era

Hugh Bonneville & Elizabeth McGovern Interview – Downton Abbey: A New Era

Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern return as Lord and Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey: A New Era. Picking up after the events of Downton Abbey‘s hit 2019 film, A New Era sees Robert and Cora Crawley lead a contingent of the family to the South of France to learn why Robert’s mother, Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), mysteriously inherited a villa on the French Riviera.

Robert and Cora end up learning much more than they bargained for in Downton Abbey‘s highly-anticipated sequel, which arrives in theaters on May 20.

Related: What Is The Dowager Countess’ Secret In Downton Abbey: A New Era?

Screen Rant chatted with Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern about Robert and Crawley’s adventure on the French Riviera, the revelations Lord and Lady Grantham learn in the film, and where they would want to film next if there is a Downton Abbey 3.

Screen Rant: In the film, you both leave Mary [Michelle Dockery] in charge of Downton and you get to go off to the South of France. What was the best part of filming in the Riviera?

Hugh Bonneville: (laughs) I don’t think there was a worst part. The most challenging part, and I say this with tongue slightly in my cheek, is that we had to quarantine for a week in a gorgeous hotel before we could start filming. So that was tough, spending all that time with people you like anyway in a swimming pool. So that was tough.

But actually filming in the villa itself was obviously a complete treat. The only delicate thing was trying to make sure that all of the passenger ships and the speedboats in the background weren’t there when we were actually filming in that direction. It was hot. It was full of crickets making their lovely noise, so we had a lot of sound issues and sound recorders tearing their hair out.

It was a beautiful place to film, it’s simple as that. The light is so distinct. You could be nowhere else but the Riviera.

Elizabeth McGovern: My favorite part was leaving Mary to deal with the house and home. (laughs) I just loved [that] the parents let her take care of the leaky roof and all the moving around of staff in the way.

She is the Captain now, as Robert said.

Elizabeth McGovern: It should always be that way.

Hugh, we know from the trailer that Violet [Maggie Smith] has a secret past. Can you talk about her secret affects Lord Grantham in this film?

Hugh Bonneville: Yes, in fact, the trailer tells you everything you need to know about the entire movie, frankly. So don’t bother going to see it. But if you do turn up, you will find that there are added textures resulting from these revelations that Violet has bequeathed to the family. The impact of going to the South of France does bring out further secrets from the closet, so to speak. Inherting the villa is one thing. The reprecussions of that inheritance are something else.

And Elizabeth, can you tell us a little bit about Cora’s story and her arc in this movie?

Elizabeth McGovern: Well, Cora has a secret, as well, and this is bubbling underneath much of her arc. And it’s causing her to take a look at her life in a way that, perhaps, she wouldn’t have done otherwise. It’s nice that she’s come to a happy conclusion about the choices she’s made. I like the fact that it seems to me that she’s made a choice to feel happy about her life at this juncture. And I think it is a choice. And I hope that message, in some subliminal way, gets put across.

One of the things I loved about this movie is you both have some powerful, emotional scenes. There’s one in particular between the two of you that beautifully encapsulates Robert and Cora’s relationship. Can you talk about filming the heightened emotions of this film?

Hugh Bonneville: That particular sequence you’re talking about was actually a fortunate happenstance because we were due to film it somewhere completely different in the UK. The night we were due to film it, it poured with rain in the middle of the night, and we were doing a night shoot so we couldn’t get to it. We had to find a way of shooting it where we ended up shooting it. And I think it’s ten times better than where we were originally going to film it. So the emotions that you’re talking about were bottled up for several weeks until we could unleash them. (laughs)

If there’s a Downton Abbey 3, I hope you’ll be back. Is there anything left that you would like to see happen to Robert and Cora at this point?

Hugh Bonneville: Elizabeth?

Elizabeth McGovern: Well, I mean, we’ve been through kind of everything. I don’t know. It’s actually quite a challenge. What I think was so difficult about doing movie number two is that you have to cater for the people that don’t want massive change in the show because they love what they’re used to. They love Maggie’s lines and they wanna hear them again. And they love everybody saying exactly what you expect them to say.

But on the other hand, you have to make that fresh. I feel quite proud because I think we managed to do that in this movie. To keep everything the same but make it fresh. It feels like a completely new movie, as well. It has that kind of energy. I think [it would be] a really big challenge to do that again, and to do it with Robert and Cora’s relationship as well.

Hugh Bonneville: I think there’s really two words that really sum it up about where we go next, and it’s The Maldives.

Elizabeth McGovern: (laughs) I’m in. We gotta do it.

The Crawley family goes on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the dowager countess’s newly inherited villa.

Check back soon for our interview with Downton Abbey stars Laura Carmichael & Allen Leech as well.

Next: Downton Abbey Timeline Explains When A New Era Set

Screen Rant interviews Downton Abbey: A New Era stars Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern about Lord and Lady Grantham’s adventure in the sequel.

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