Downton Abbey Season 4 Casting Scoop: [Spoiler]'s Getting a New Suitor!

Downton Abbey Season 4Unless you want to risk doing a spit take with your afternoon tea, American fans of Downton Abbey may want to skip over this story. The rest of you, however, will be keenly interested to learn that, in Season 4, Lady Mary will be getting a new…

Last chance to look away!


As you may have heard — certainly if you’re overseas — Dan Stevens, aka Matthew, bowed out of the hit series at the end of the third season. And, since Lady Mary wouldn’t be Lady Mary without a gentleman by her side, the show is looking for a (naturally!) handsome thirtysomething actor to come courting as Lord Anthony Gillingham.

RELATED | It’s Official: [Spoiler]’s Returning to Downton Abbey For Season 4!

From what we gather, her would-be suitor is not only a looker, he also has a winning personality. (So winning, in fact, that there’s already talk that he could return for Season 5!)

Abbey EP Gareth Neame told TVLine in a recent interview that Steven’s exit created a “dramatic opportunity” for Michelle Dockery’s alter ego, adding, “In any relationship drama, the will-they-or-won’t-they is always more interesting than married couples. So actually what we’ve been able to do is reset [Lady Mary]. She has to start again, and that will be much more interesting.”

What do you think? Could any chap ever replace Matthew? And if so, who? Since the show is likely to hire a Brit, Henry “Superman” Cavill comes to mind. And so does Orlando Bloom. But, given their movie-star status, they might be a bit pricey, even for the Crawleys. Sound off with your picks below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. And Rachel Hurd-Wood as Tom’s new love interest… though I thought killing off Sybil was completely pointless and unecessary.

  2. elizabeth says:

    I think that Adrian Lukis aka/ George Wickham Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth) would make a great guy for Lady Mary. He plays the rogue so beautifully and I bet he would play a great lover. There is also Crispin Bonham Carter, he basically has the same, let’s say, style as Matthew. I will miss the old Matthew because he was really a believable man in this part. Adieu!

  3. Jayne says:

    King Henry VIII…that guy…he is HOT!

  4. Ron says:

    If they could get Chris Hemworth it would blow all other suitors out of the water. He has an incredible gentle side that just melts most women’s hearts. Too big a star perhaps but who knows he might want to do it just for the shear fun of being involved a great series that is storming the whole world right now. I hear that the season series copies are completely sold out in most stores. I’ve seen bigger stars take lesser roles in the past so who knows… it couldn’t hurt to ask him, I hear he’s actually a pretty down to earth guy.

  5. Kristin says:

    Is Colin Firth too old? He certainly would be delicious.

  6. Paeng S. del Rosario says:

    MATTHEW MACFADYEN…He was wonderful as Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice”…<3

  7. Sherry says:

    Been thinking about this what about Jason Hughes (Midsomer Murders), Ioan Gruffudd (Hornblower), or an American David Giuntoli (Grimm), Josh Holloway (Lost) or Michael Vartan (Alias).

  8. angie says:

    Question: How did Thomas learn about the soap incident? I don’t recall O’Brien ever telling him what she did.

    • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

      This should probably go in the “episode 6” recap page, but since you asked … That’s always been something that’s bugged me about 3×08. From their discussions together n 2×02/2×03/2×04, it was apparent to me that O’Brien never told Thomas about what happened. (He questioned her devotion to Cora and she evaded the question.) And why would she? Why would O’Brien ever give anyone ammunition to use against her? IDK … maybe Thomas heard about Cora’s slip and fall and from O’Brien’s uncomfortable demeanor, just put two and two together?

      • angie says:

        It’s a stretch, but at least it makes sense. I can let little things like this go; it’s not a reason to stop watching. Killing off Matthew, however, is absolutely such a reason. The entire series is built arount the love between Mary and Matthew. Next week’s episode will be my last. I don’t blame Dan Stevens (though I think he may be heading for acting greatness that will exist only in his own mind). I blame JF for not understanding that M&M are the heart and sould of DA, and Matthew should have been recast.


    like it or not,mathew was the star of this series,I know that the movies beckoned and Dan left for the money,but I will never watch him again.He is ruining downton abbey.Mary and branson don’t even begin to be the love story this production needs. I think the ford fiesta comment was apt-the show just keeps bumbeling along,waiting for another horrible tragedy to hit them all-they all are amazing actors, and the plot is the old car springing oil leaks at every bumb and hole in the road. Lady mary could stop falling in love for fun or profit and get a life.

    • SMRS says:

      I don´t believe Dan left for the money at all!!!

    • angie says:

      I don’t think it was directly for the money; I think Stevens sees this as a good career move. I don’t. He’s not THAT good, yet. One or two more years with DA would have secured his status/recognition as an actor with viewers. I agree that the M/M love story is the heart and sould of the series. The only way I could continue watching is if Matthew were to be recast. As I do not see that happening, the coming episode will probably be my last.

      • SMRS says:

        For me Dan Stevens was superb as Matthew as I think he is a talented actor!! I´m portuguese and didn´t know him before Downton, and the fact that he played a very believable character made me want to know more about his work. I´ve seen The Line of Beauty and love it! Matthew was Dan Stevens, so in my opinion the recast isn´t an option!

        • angie says:

          Different strokes, I guess. For me, though Stevens was delicious as Matthew, the role of Matthew (IMO) could easily be recast. Matthew/Mary is critical to the series. The series will plummet without this couple.

      • Amy says:

        I agree. Bad career move for Dan. He’s great is British television (mainly period roles), but I don’t see him being very successful in Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, I love him in DA (and Sense and Sensibility). I just think he’s overestimated his marketability to wider audiences (and in different genres).
        I’ll still watch season 4, because I’m curious to see how JF makes this work and if the show can survive without someone who’s been so vital to the story since the very beginning. I’m afraid Dan might have spelled Downton’s doom when he decided to quit….

    • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

      I agree … It’s interesting how split fandom is on the DS question. I’m blogging about it (in response to a meme created by a talented fandom writer) for the entire month of Feb. If you want, check out my posts at shanghaiedinla[.]livejournal[.]com.

  10. Molly says:

    Matthew Goode

  11. MrG says:

    “Mary and Mathew suffer and accident” Mathew dies, A pregnant Mary survives and she is rescued by a strong young man. He becomes interested in her. But Mary losses part of her memory for a while. After time her memory comes back almost to normal and a gentler and more compassionate Mary arises. But the memory of the accident is erased. The strong young man continues to be interested and finally they marry. They raise Mary and Mathew’s baby boy and have three girls after that. Then the new Downton Generations begins!!! This is too much fun.

  12. BuckeyeNV says:

    I love the amount of discussion this show can generate – but in our hearts, we all know that JF has already written Season 4 (or is almost done) – It doesn’t matter how much we wish for certain actors to replace Matthew (isn’t going to happen – sorry) or how much we dream about who the new suitor will be (already decided) – all we can do is sit back and watch.

    A lot of the these comments talk about how Dan Stevens leaving will be the end of the show – I find that so insulting to the rest of the cast. Yes, Matthew and Mary have been central characters, but they aren’t the ONLY characters – and I think the rest of the cast can carry this show onward and upward! I’ll watch Sunday – and I’m sure I’ll cry over Matthew – but I’ll also be eagerly looking forward to the next chapters in these wonderful character’s lives!

    • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

      To each his own. But you can’t pretend the M/M arc wasn’t central to the very structure of the narrative. They WERE the future of Downton. … In terms of how much he’s written, I think at this point he’s probably written eps 1-6(ish) of S4, going by previous years. So there’s a window at the end which is probably still up for grabs. And New Guy absolutely hasn’t been cast yet because it would be in the trades if he were (we all knew about Carlisle, Vera, Lavinia, Gregson, etc. when they were cast). The latest AFAIK is that they’re having trouble finding the right combination of looks, charisma and chemistry. To which I say: DUH, could have told them that at the outset. They’ll never recreate the magic they had with M/M and they’re foolish to try. They can cast a new love interest but it will be second best regardless of how much they try to convince viewers it isn’t so. That kind of actor-to-actor chemistry comes along in TV maybe once in a decade.

      • angie says:

        I agree with your comments about the M/M arc being the heart and sould of DA. Without M/M, the show will enter a rapid fizzle, IMO. Where I disagree is regarding the possibility of recasting Matthew. Yes, you are correct that DS and MD had great chemistry, but honestly, I think another Matthew could be found and cast, someone with equally great chemistry, someone viewers would embrace especially to continue the M/M storyline..

  13. MrG says:

    Mathew or no Matthew the show will continue. I agree with the post here. There are so many good characters to follow. Matthew’s role is just one. Matthew is not the central character. The center characters being rotated depending on the drama of the episode. Lets step back and look at the whole cast an storylines. It’s entertainment! Lets keep it fun!

    • angie says:

      I disagree. I think without the character of Matthew, the show will struggle through at most one more season with a significantly diminished viewing audience. We shall see.

    • MrG says:

      If the series was called Matthew Abby yes, but another actor can easily ay this role. If season 4 is written with Matthew as central to the series, yes, but that has not been the case, except for one season as Mary and Mathew got together. If Mathew takes over as emperor, perhaps, but the series is multidimensional. So, only the writers know. And a such they can take us anywhere they want. DA is already a success. I doubt if his character is taken by another actor or changed dramatically, people will stop watching. As long as storylines do not drag, we will keep on viewing. A shock now and then keeps us interested. There is so much competition in the USA with other shows that if it drags a bit, we change the channel.

      • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

        Sigh. I wish people who clearly aren’t invested in the show enough to even understand the lexicon would just stay silent.

  14. Katrina says:

    HENRY CAVILL!!!!!!!

  15. Captain Phil says:

    Weird I left a reply but I assume the powers that be deleted it because it failed to meet some unspecified criteria- so ok what is wanted here? I will try again- I suggest a bold move- The British Merlin series just ended and two of the actors King Arthur (Brad James) and his father (Anthony Stewart Head) would make outstanding sections here. They would bring a following and a depth of character that might add a new dimension. Additionally adding Colin Morgan as their man servant would allow for the playful bantering between him and Brad to continue which might add another avenue for a story line worthy of development for the writers. PS I’m not suggesting another same sex romance; I think we have had quite enough of that. More of it threatens to advance a cause at considerable loss of a great TV series fan base. PC programing notwithstanding, the 1900’s are a wholly unrealistic time period in which to advocate support for the gay lifestyle, PLEEEEASE! Parents have to make a decision if their children should watch such a series. I for one will wait to see if the writers wish to use the shows as a tool for social engineering and advocacy for alternative lifestyles or if they are above such posturing. A new character offers an opportunity to move in another direction. PLEASE TAKE IT!

  16. Captain Phil says:

    Nobility and royal blood run through the veins of some…actors that seems *smile*And such is the case of the Merlin Characters. I have seen Colin Morgan and Bradley James chemistry in the hit TV series Merlin and they have a natural ease with one another that draws an audience in as few have before. Off camera they appear to be like brothers who I am confident would enjoy the opportunity to work together again especially on a series like this. I suspect though Colin may only be able to play a minimal role initially as man servant to Bradley and could then be eased in during the next year into a full time role once he completes his run on stage. I am betting on a 5th or 6th series if they get away from pushing the gay agenda.

    • angie says:

      There is no gay agenda, only a human agenda where all people have equal civil rights. You may think you can slip your buzz words past people, but YOUR agenda is quite obvious.

  17. Fiona says:

    Sorry to lose Matthew. Would love to see Rupert Penry Jones added to the cast.

  18. MrG says:

    Sad, people, sad.

  19. shawn says:

    I’m actually angry. First sybil, now matthew??? Are they trying to drive us away? Why is british writing so fatalistic? Can they not invent some drama without killing everyone we love? I was really upset when Matthew died. Just unbelievable. Why is Thomas more important than Sybil or Matthew for heavens sake?? Couldn’t they kill him off instead??

    Well anyway, I suppose if Branson or Mary can find someone else to love that the rest of the family would accept, then I can stomach another season. They just can’t keep doing this. It reminds me of “World without end” Nothing but evil until the very end. PLease do something good for once! Jeeez…

    • Amy says:

      Both Matthew and Jessica chose to leave the show. I don’t think you can really blame JF for that or say that he’s “trying to drive us away.” He has to work with what the actors give him, and when they decide to leave, he has to do it in the most believable way and then soldier on with the story. Give him a chance.

  20. MrG says:

    Actually actors may kill themselves per se. Contracts, money, opportunities, politics, quiting, poor writing, storyline, etc. Bring some fresh stock and lets start again. It just needs to be better than before. Do actors care about the people that watch and give them the ratings they benefit from,? I hope so. I look forward to some fresh faces. The show must go on, I guess. We could start a betting pool to see who dies next!!! :)

    • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

      I agree that it was DS who bears the responsibility for the end of his character. But I disagree with your statement about “being better than before.” It’s just not possible. Mary and New Guy are not going to be better than M/M. Personally I don’t think JF can muster the same enthusiasm in writing for them, even if he had the narrative space to do it. … M/M were iconic; they were on the cover of TV Guide twice; their wedding is the reason PBS had almost 8 million viewers for the S3 premiere; their romance — particularly in S2 — is why DA is now in the zeitgeist. And the end of M/M is why DA will fall out of the zeitgeist. The show will go on but its best days are behind it.

  21. Deborah Castic says:

    For all the Whovians… David Tennant!

  22. Genemvia says:

    Eddie Redmayne

  23. TAMMIE says:

    I wish they wouldn’t jump years forward – but they will, and for all we know the new relationship for mary will probably be a relay race – not a sprint. DA has brought so many unexpexted twists- it’s not unlikely that mary’s personality may grow in ways so far from who we know her to be at this point. the new man may not really become the boyfriend until the end of season 4. I would like to think JF will allow grieving time – and i think she will continue to grieve even while the new man is very much in the mix – she might have him around as a distraction from her pain – another Jacob (Twilight), or a new softer Mary might just fall in unexpected love – not the same as Mathew – but something that feels safe to her. I wish they had just replaced the role of Mathew with another actor – loosing him just makes us in the US so upset. for those of us who have lost the love of our life – we don’t move on quickly – but times were different then, and Mary may feel her best chance is to have a new man while her son is young. there’s so many routes mary’s role might go – I do believe, however, that Tom will have a lot to do with her personality changes, and the type of man she will be interested in from here on out. I love DA – but it’s becoming so sad to watch. I hope that JF doesn’t throw too many twists in just because he can – there’s no good in having surprises for the sake of drama and ratings. The integrity of the show is enough to keep viewers hooked for a long time to come.

  24. 39stepsfan says:

    Rupert Penry-Jones !!!

  25. Bingca says:

    What David Leon, from the PBS series, Vera? He is tall, dark and very handsome. He would be a perfect suitor for lady Mary in S4.

  26. MrG says:

    Sometimes the “dramas” are forced by actors negotiations. M&M truly was the highlight couple, but there is another season where the creativity of writing can be challenging and at its best. That is why I stated it has to be better than before in order for it to be a masterpiece all around. Otherwise lets just end here and change the channel. I still believe there are several good stories going on and not everything revolves around M&M, which has come to and end. I always expect more. Don’t we all?

  27. What about MATTHEW LEWIS, the former Neville Longbottom of Harry Potter fame. he turned out to be HOT!

  28. cathy dietrich says:

    there was so much left with that charator i was so shocked they were good together

  29. Amanda says:

    How could you kill Matthew!!!!!??? I cried myself to sleep hen I saw the episode! Nobody can replace Matthew!

  30. Susan Erickson says:

    I am an American and voting whole heartedly for Rupert Penry-Jones!!!!! He’s purrrrrrfect!

  31. Hattie says:

    How about Colin Firth as Mary’s mature boyfriend???

  32. MrG says:

    The new guy needs to be a bit rugged. Last Mathew was a bit soft/bland/preppy. Just sayin’.

  33. glenda says:

    Chris Hemsworth…he’s not British but who cares?

  34. M Vos says:

    How about Rupert Everett as Lady Mary’s new suitor. He was dashingly wonderful in “An Ideal Husband”

  35. RICHARD MADDEN from Game Of Thrones. I would love him to do it…

  36. Marie says:

    Branson and Mary, or introduce David Tennant!!! Bring a Scot into the family!!! The Yank Cowboy would be interesting too…

  37. Sandi says:

    Matthew Goode …….PLEASE!!!!

  38. Lisa says:

    Aidan Turner or Damien Molony would be great as a new beau for Mary. I just get icked out over her and Branson because their children are cousins now but would be step-siblings from marriage. This just screams back woods brother cousin and sister cousin to me! Sorry.

  39. linda silver says:

    Sorry, and I know he’s older, but I adore Clive Owen. Couldn’t he be a little older suitor??

  40. Lola says:

    Eddie Redmayne as a suitor for Lady Mary. Would be a good casting choice.
    He and Michelle D. could sing together.

  41. Susan McShannon-Monteith says:

    Why not bring in some rich gentleman from a foreign land for Mary to be captivated by. The British Empire stretched far and wide someone from afar and a different culture would add a degree of mystery.After all she was ready to bed a man from elsewhere in the very first season!

  42. MrG says:

    I say they bring an American to rock the Abby. Shirley MacClaine did. Then besides the British lawn games, we could see some baseball and hot dogs for a picnic. That would be fun!!

  43. My vote for Mattews replacement is Rupert Perry Jones .He’s handsome & a very
    fine actor !

  44. My vote goes to Rupert Perry Jones

  45. Judi Newland says:

    Doesn’t matter what they do for season four, I won’t be watching. My heart is broken and will remain so. Also, I will never be sucked in again to this type of program. There is nothing or noone who is worth this kind of disappointment. I am the type of person who likes to be entertained by entertainment. I don’t like to have my heart pummeled and dashed about like a piece of meat. I like happy endings and don’t like being slam-dunked after I have been sucked in. Good Luck in the future as you will need it.

    • angie says:

      Spot on. You and hundreds of thousands of other ex-fans, including me. M&M were the heart and soul of DA, and that has now been ripped out. Matthew should have been recast. Fatal decision no to do so by JF..

      • Judi says:

        Dan Stevens leaving the show at the height of his popularity reminds me of when Larry Hagman left a very popular show named Dallas & was killed off in the show. This was done at the height of his popularity because he had received so many offers to do other things at so much more money. However, when he left the ratings of the show plummeted and so did his career. The producers of Dallas decided to bring JR Ewing (Larry Hagman) back to save the show and did this by having JR Ewing’s brother Bobby admit to having a “bad dream”. Maybe the “Trip to the Highlands” episode should be Mary’s bad dream and she and Mathew wake up @DA. They could welcome the family home from Scotland, have the son and heir and go on from there. As it is, there might be quite a dry spell in season 4 and possibly 5 (or maybe there won’t be a 5). Maybe this would save DS from getting his “just desserts”. Just a thought.

        • angie says:

          There are always ways to bring back a character. JF has simply decided not to do so, which I believe is a decision that will kill the series. All this talk about a “new suitor” misses the point entirely. Matthew/Mary – their life and love together – was the soul of DA, and killing Matthew destroys that. I won’t be watching, but we’ll see.

          • Misti says:

            I disagree to a certain extent. Don’t get me wrong, I love Matthew (although I’m actually more intrigued by Edith than I am Mary, personally) and I do think that his departure will be a loss. However, the show is about Downton Abbey– all of the people, both upstairs and down. It’s about the things that affect their lives and how they react to them and how they pick themselves up and continue on regardless of financial crises, world wars, births, deaths, marriages, psychotic exes, or anything else.

          • angie says:

            IDA is indeed an ensemble cast, and we are interested in the lives of many characters. IMO, however, at the core of the encemble cast is the Matthew/Mary story, and I do not think DA will survive the destruction of this core couple.

  46. Judi says:

    The story has revolved around the central character core of M&M. If there is no core there is no story and therefore no remaining plot and no way to resolve the void. DA will not survive without the two of them intact and in love. This is not the way for a true love story to end. Not all love stories are tragic. There has been too much death on DA and I feel that I and all of the fans have been punished enough. What’s next? Edith and her suitor die in a train crash together? Greek tragedies are a thing of the past. Maybe someone can tell me how the feeble story plot continues. I won’t be witness to the next travesty. She will never forget Mathew and their bond of love. DA was a good story up to this point. Why couldn’t it have ended with the cricket match. As was said on Happy Days final episode “they have jumped the shark”.

  47. suzanna inghram hook murphy says:

    I concur with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the most convincing new suitor for Mary. However, I also concur with those writers who feel that the reality of her daily life and shared trajedies may lead Mary’s heart into unexpected territory and she may fall in love with Tom Branson, Sybills, former husband.

  48. better skin says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing

  49. Elvira says:

    Nah, the obvious answer is penry-Jones. The problem here is Whitechapel.

  50. Jana m says:

    If I were writing season 4 I would have Gerard Butler appear as a replacement of Lynch, the fellow who manages the horses/stable. I would paint him as son of an aristocratic family who fell on hard times after the war. And perhaps Gerard and Mary Would have met for a Fleeting moment during her season years before. He would teach her son to ride, be very apt in assisting Lord Grantham run Downton Abbey, because his father Sir Whomever was a close comrade in war of Lord Grantham. You cannot have another Matthew. You need to go against type for Mary’s new love. That would get me rehooked!