Actress Michelle Dockery’s star has been rising since the start of Downton Abbey; as a true lady of the manor and a bit of a rebel, Michelle’s character Lady Mary Crawley is loved all over the world for her acerbic wit. She has earned some very famous fans: J.J. Abrams dropped in to the set, and Matthew Perry never misses an episode. “It’s crazy, whenever we’re at events like the Emmys, people that you’ve loved and admired for years are coming over to talk to us,” Michelle says, her eyes wide with disbelief. “Edie Falco is one of the greatest actresses ever; I met her at an awards show and she told me she loves Downton – that meant the world to me.”
After Lady Mary gave birth to George, many speculated whether Prince William and Kate Middleton were watching with their own baby Prince George. Michelle bumped into Kate’s siblings, Pippa and James, at Wimbledon 2014. “They tried to get some spoilers out of me, like everyone does!” she reveals.
People often assume the Downton cast are their characters in real life. “We are always asked if we live in the castle,” Michelle smiles. After several years of playing Mary, the actress has a great respect for her alter ego. “I’ve always admired her confidence; she’s very assertive.”
Change is on the horizon for the oldest Crawley sister. “Mary is in a new chapter of her life,” says Michelle. “She’s embracing her independence; the old Mary has returned, with her wit and cutting remarks. As much as last year was enjoyable [as an actress] because it was a challenge to go through that grief, this year it’s different because she’s happier.”
The new season is set in 1924 and Lady Mary’s mourning clothes are finally being put away. “She’s not in black anymore!” says Michelle. “There’s a very Chanel-like quality to the new clothes, so for me it’s been great. My interest in fashion has been a result of the show, although I don’t sit in my Downton Abbey dresses watching Madmen!” she laughs.
Catch new Downton Abbey episodes every Monday at 9.25pm on DIVA Universal (StarHub Channel 513).