A 2nd 'Downton Abbey' movie is out and there may be more to come
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The last time we saw the Crawley family of "Downton Abbey," there was a visit from the king and queen of England, an attempted assassination, scandal and romance. Now Downton's doors are open once again.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA")
HUGH BONNEVILLE: (As Robert Grantham) Mr. Barber is a producer and director.
MICHELLE DOCKERY: (As Lady Mary) He wants to make a film at Downton.
JIM CARTER: (As Mr. Carson) A moving picture at Downton?
HUGH DANCY: (As Jack Barber) Action.
MARTIN: "Downton Abbey: A New Era" takes place in the final years of the Roaring '20s. MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan is here to talk about it. Hey, Kenny.
KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. How are you doing?
MARTIN: Oh, I'm well. I'm pretty excited about this. I got to say, though, I don't think a two-hour feature film is going to satisfy my desire for more "Downton Abbey." But OK, if that's all I'm getting, then I'll work with it.
TURAN: (Laughter) Actually, there are rumors that there's going to be a third one. Julian Fellowes, who's the creator, he said, you know, a trilogy sounds nice to me. So there's a possibility, if this does well at the box office, that there'll be more to come.
MARTIN: OK. I like where you're going with that. So let's get into it. This is a new era at Downton. What's happening in this new chapter?
TURAN: Well, there are two separate stories that happen. No. 1, at Downton itself, a film crew wants to shoot there. And at first, you know, they're very upset. It's very common type of occupation to make its way into Downton. But they need money. The roof is leaking. So the film crew gets the go-ahead. At the same time, the Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith - who's, I think, mine and everyone's favorite character...
TURAN: ...She has, for some reason, inherited a villa in the south of France.
MARTIN: Of course she has.
TURAN: Yeah, it's wild. And no one is quite sure why this happened. And so half of the inhabitants of Downton have to go to the south of France to kind of check things out. So it's two parallel stories, and the film cuts back and forth between both of them.
MARTIN: So you have mentioned that the storyline reminds you of a Hollywood classic.
TURAN: Yes. The storyline - the making of the film is really - I hate to put it this way - but it's lifted from "Singin' In The Rain," in which one of the subplots is that one of the silent actresses - her sound voice is terrible. Right in the middle of shooting, they have to switch from silent to sound. And that's what happened in "Singin' In The Rain," and that's what happens in the movie that is shot at Downton.
MARTIN: I'm very excited about some additions to the cast. Dominic West is going to be in this, who I adored from "The Wire." Very exciting. But as you note, it is always about Maggie Smith. She plays the matriarch, Violet Grantham. What were some of your favorite one-liners from her? Because this is what she does. She just brings the fire.
TURAN: (Laughter) No, it's true. I mean, as much as you look forward to them, they always surprise you. They always get to you. She's so good, that even though you know she's going to do it, she puts you away.
TURAN: And they make a lot of jokes about acting, which is kind of amusing. And she doesn't think acting is a great profession. She says, I'd rather earn my living down the mines.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Wow.
TURAN: You know, no one says these lines like Maggie Smith.
TURAN: No one.
MARTIN: So, I mean, I laid my cards out on the table at the beginning of the conversation. I can never get enough "Downton." But we should acknowledge, there have been six seasons of the show that aired on PBS, now two films. You said there might be more of the Downton story to kind of squeeze out into more.
TURAN: Well, they say there is. I mean, this one - you know, it's really charming to have these people come back. And I counted - there's something like 20 people back from the original cast. It's almost got of "Brigadoon" feeling. You know, it just - all of a sudden, this whole world pops back to life...
TURAN: ...And we get to take part in it. There are great cars. There are great clothes. If you've never heard of "Downton Abbey," this is not the place to start because you won't know what's going on. But if you're a fan, it's a pleasure to see these people again.
MARTIN: MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan reviewing "Downton Abbey: A New Era." Ken, thank you so much.
TURAN: Oh, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.