Fans of Downton Abbey haven’t forgotten or forgiven Julian Fellowes for unceremoniously killing their favourite character Mathew Crawley, played by Dan Stevens.
Matthew was shown happily driving after meeting his new-born son at the hospital. The very next moment, the audience were tortured with a corpse on the grass, a few feet away from the car. On top of it, Julian decided to end the season without giving any explanation. (Without even letting Mary know what happened). She came to know in the next season. Years after the series called it curtains, the audience still crave for answers to why Downton Abbey producers killed off such an integral character. Was Dan Stevens a partner to this?
- Contract controversy with Kevin James
- Julian was tired of Mathew in Downton Abbey?
- Filming is exhausting
Well, here are the reasons.
1. Contract controversy with Kevin James
One of the biggest and the most heartbreaking reasons is that Stevens wasn’t planning on renewing his contract for season four.
Gareth Neame, one of the producers of Downton Abbey, told Entertainment Weekly that the British TV contracts are far different from the American one. British agents typically sign three year contracts for their actors, which gives them the freedom to move on when the term is up.
They do have the option to renew their contract, but British studios lack the budget to increase the salaries if shows do well. Stevens did not agree to what he would be paid for doing the next season. And so he decided it was time to move on.
2. Julian was tired of Mathew?
Fans blamed Julian Fellowes for killing off the character just because he lacked the idea of how to create the same spark between Mary and Mathew. The story was taking the route of happily-ever-after, which is considered a dead-end on TV.
But according to the maker, the reasons were entirely different. Dan did not want to continue in the next season and they could not think of any other actor playing Mathew. They decided to bury the character with dignity rather than face outrage from fans for casting another actor.
Julian Fellowes explained in the New York Times, when a servant leaves, the (character) finds a new job.
“With members of the family, once they’re not prepared to come back for any episodes at all, then it means death. Because how believable would it be that Matthew never wanted to see the baby, never wanted to see his wife? And was never seen again at the estate that he was the heir to? So we didn’t have any option. I was as sorry as everyone else.”
He also felt the pain like the audience. He wasn’t tired of Mathew as it is blamed, but he was out of options.
3. Filming is exhausting
Every attempt was made to stretch the timeline of Mathew Crawley. Dan Stevens was given the option of appearing in a couple of Downton episodes in season four that would give him a proper “send-off”.
He politely declined because commuting from many countries would be too exhausting. It would have meant a commute from the states to Dublin and the U.K.
So let’s give the makers of Downton Abbey the benefit of the doubt. Let’s forgive them for they haven’t committed a crime. The Christmas episode had to end tragically for reasons that were not under their control.
Downton Abbey season four didn’t pick up with Matthew’s funeral. Fellowes said,
“We don’t have to do funerals and all that stuff. That’s all in the past by then.”
So that was it. Mathew had to be killed off and we were supposed to mourn his death on our own. Our heart still longs for him to come back and do the reboot of Downton Abbey.
How did you take the death of Mathew Crawley on Downton Abbey? Drop your views in the comments section below.