We've speculated here earlier this year that, as Dan Stevens' star continues to rise, it would become more and more difficult to keep him tied down to the series that made him famous. Today it became official: Stevens has not re-upped his contract for a fourth season with 'Downton Abbey.'
Stevens portrays Matthew Crawley on the ITV period drama (which airs on PBS in the USA), a lawyer and heir to the Crawley estate. His final appearance on the program, a post-third season Christmas special which aired last night in the United Kingdom, explained away Matthew's exit from a storyline perspective.
Stevens has left to pursue other projects. ""We were always optioned for three years," Stevens told the Telegraph when discussing his decision to move on. "And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things."
(SPOILER ALERT!!) After his decidedly final exit on 'Abbey,' Stevens described his emotions about the departure: "It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be."
Stevens is currently starring opposite Jessica Chastain ('Lawless,' 'Zero Dark Thirty') in the Broadway show "The Heiress." Stevens also stars in the highly anticipated indie flick 'Summer in February,' yet to be released. Stevens has also been linked in an unspecified manner to an upcoming Wikileaks project from Dreamworks. Could Stevens be tapped to play the Australian writer and journalist Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks?
The third season of 'Downton Abbey' begins airing in the USA on January 6 on PBS.