"Downton Abbey" Movie: Hugh Bonneville On The "Clever" Storyline

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Playing Hugh Bonneville On What To Expect From The New Downton Abbey Movie

The last time "Downton Abbey" star Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham himself) stopped by, he played pretty coy about the idea of a "Downton Abbey" movie.

"I can imagine a world in which a film would happen," the actor told us in early 2018 — which was promising, but not at all definitive.

So did he know more than he let on? Was he acting?

"Yeah, I was, I was," Hugh tells Rach today. 

"Put it this way," he continues, "we'd been talking about it for a while since the series came to an end, so for the last two seasons, there had been chat about it. And so I think the last time I saw you, it was still a babe in arms, if you'd like. It hadn't [gotten] out of its cot yet."

Fair enough, Hugh, fair enough.

"There were times we thought it never was going to happen, because [of] trying to wrangle such a big cast back together," he tells us. "Luckily the planets aligned roughly this time last year and we shot it over 10 weeks." 

(To give you an idea of how short that really is, Hugh tells us each season of the show took about six months to film.)

What will the "Downton Abbey" movie be about?

The British period drama film, based on the Emmy-winning hit series about the aristocratic Crawley family and their beloved servants, picks up in 1927, Hugh tells us.

"The series took us up to 1926-ish and the film doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. It's really just a further chapter in the life of the Crawley family and the people who live and work on the estate. It picks up in 1927," Hugh, who plays the husband of Cora Crawley, played by Elizabeth McGovern, explains. "I think it's fair to say that the household is set fair, there's no great traumas within the family or anything like that. But then a letter arrives announcing that the King and Queen want to come and stay. And of course that puts the cats amongst the pigeons." 

We're intrigued ...

"And it's quite a clever kind of storyline, really," he continues, "because it's something that affects everybody in the household — both upstairs and down. Everyone has to put on a good show for the royal visit."

Do you need to have watched the "Downton Abbey" TV series to understand what's going on in the film? 

"You don't need to have seen the TV show to go to the film," the actor promises. "It stands alone, because the relationships are so clearly etched. The hierarchies within the social structure of the house and within the family — both upstairs and down — is very clearly delineated."

With that said, if you DO want to binge the series first, here's how.

RELATED: Throwback! Future Royal Meghan Markle Dishes On Her Now-Retired Blog, "The Tig"

When does the "Downton Abbey" movie come out?

It hits theaters nationwide this Friday, September 20th. (It opened September 13th in the UK — not fair!)

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