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Fans will have to wait a little longer to return to Downton. Focus Features is pushing the North American release of “Downton Abbey 2” from Dec. 22, 2021, to March 18, 2022.

The film will now compete against “Unbreakable Boy,” a drama with Zachary Levi, Meghann Fahy and Patricia Heaton. The following weekend will bring the juggernaut that is “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” but “Downton Abbey 2,” which appeals to older audiences should be some nice counter-programming to the younger-skewing Marvel release. In its former slot, “Downton Abbey 2” would have been up against the likes of “Matrix 4,” “Sing 2” and “The King’s Man.”

The follow-up to the hit 2019 film, itself a spinoff of the popular TV show, will bring back most of the upstairs/downstairs cast. That includes both members of the key Grantham clan, played by the likes of Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery, as well as actors Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle, who play their butlers, maids and other servants. New additions to the ensemble include Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West. The screenplay is written by “Downton” creator Julian Fellowes, with Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning Gareth Neame and Emmy Award-winning Liz Trubridge producing with Fellowes. Simon Curtis (“My Week With Marilyn”) is directing the film, which wraps production next month.

Universal Pictures International will release “Downton Abbey 2” internationally on the same date. The first “Downton Abbey” grossed an impressive $194.3 million and centered on a visit by the Royal Family. No word yet on what posh visitors may get a hankering for a trip to the country in the sequel. “Downton Abbey 2” is a Carnival Films production.

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It’s official! This Christmas we will be graced with a sequel to Downton Abbey, the film. All cast members are returning.


Lead cast has been set for anticipated Netflix series Anatomy Of A Scandal, we can reveal.

Sienna Miller (The Loudest Voice), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Rupert Friend (Strange Angel) will lead cast in the show from Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley and former House Of Cards showrunner Melissa James Gibson. S.J. Clarkson (Succession, Jessica Jones) is directing. We hear shoot will get underway this year in London.

The six-part series is based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Sarah Vaughan and tells the story of a scandal among the British privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

The original 2017 book centers on a high-flying Westminster politician whose marriage unravels when he is accused of rape. Sophie is sure her husband is innocent, while prosecutor Kate is equally convinced he is guilty.

Miller will play Sophie Whitehouse, the Oxford graduate, a wife and a mother of two whose perfectly charmed life is about to implode.

Dockery will be Kate Woodcroft, QC, the steely criminal barrister specializing in prosecuting sexual crimes who’s risen quickly in her field, and just got handed the case of a lifetime.

Friend will play James Whitehouse, the ambitious and charismatic junior minister who has always shared his wife’s good fortune—until now.

Kelley and Gibson will write, showrun and executive produce the series, which is housed at Liza Chasin’s 3dot productions and Bruna Papandrea’s Made Up Stories.

The other executive producers are Clarkson, Chasin for 3dot, and Papandrea, Steve Hutensky and Allie Goss for Made Up Stories, and Vaughan. Margaret Chernin is co-executive producer.

The idea has been that future seasons could focus on different scandals in an anthology format that has echoes of A Very English Scandal.

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Hello, everyone! I recently tracked down (and was given) some materials we did not previously have of Michelle’s mini-series Godless. I hope you all enjoy!




The teenage years are never simple. There are the hormones, the ridiculous high school hierarchy, the peer pressure, the homework, and in Jacob Barber’s case, the murder accusation. Okay, so Jacob isn’t a normal teenager. But until recently, his parents thought he was.

In Defending Jacob (now streaming on Apple TV+), the 14-year-old title character (Jaeden Martell) goes from homeroom to a jail cell when a classmate turns up dead and he’s suspected of the murder. Based on William Landay’s best-selling 2012 novel, the Massachusetts-set limited series stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery as Jacob’s parents — his defenders, if you will. But when their son becomes the biggest news story in town, their seemingly normal existence is thrown into a blender of accusations, rumors, and curious stares.

“Their lives are completely turned upside down,” Dockery, best known for her six-season run on Downton Abbey, tells EW. “The show asks how far you would go for your family.”

Although the mystery at the center of Defending Jacob is strung together with the kind of precision reserved for the best dramas on television today, it’s less of a whodunit than it might seem on the surface. This thriller is just as much about the toll such an accusation can take on a family, and what happens when parents start to doubt their own child’s innocence. “Laurie goes through so many different emotions, and the guilt was something that was there in the text,” Dockery says. “Something that was very important to portray is the guilt that you feel as a parent in any situation, but particularly this. ‘Why are we in this situation? Where did it go wrong?'”

Over the course of eight episodes, as the Barber family is put through the wringer, Laurie and Andy will learn just as much about each other as they will about their son, because Jacob’s not the only one with secrets.

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Like most parents, Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery have some thoughts about Jaeden Martell’s hair.

The trio play the seemingly idyllic Barber family in Apple TV+’s Defending Jacob, and before the show’s April 24 debut, they staged a makeshift family reunion on Zoom, with Dockery calling in from her home in London, Evans from Boston, and Martell from Los Angeles. As soon as the video feed flickered on, all three began waving and grinning at the sight of each other, like any long-distance kin who’ve been separated by quarantine. Evans immediately started peppering the 17-year-old Martell with playful questions about his newly bleached blond hair: “Is that for work, or is that for you?”

“Just for fun,” Martell replied. “Because why not?”

“It looks great!” Dockery gushed, as Martell pointed out Evans’ recent buzz cut. “It’s utilitarian,” Evans said with a shrug, running his hand over his head.

Even separated by several time zones, Evans, Dockery, and Martell have an easy chemistry that makes them particularly believable as a family unit. And at first, Defending Jacob’s Barber family seem to be every bit the close-knit, white-picket-fence suburbanites they present on the outside. Their sense of normalcy shatters, however, when a local boy is found stabbed on a nearby jogging path. The boy, Ben, was a classmate of 14-year-old Jacob (It alum Martell), and the youngest Barber is soon arrested on suspicions of murder. Suddenly, mom Laurie (Downton Abbey’s Dockery) and dad Andy (Evans, a.k.a. Captain America) find themselves rushing to defend their son, as they privately question how well they really know him — and each other.

Writer Mark Bomback and director Morten Tyldum adapted William Landay’s 2012 novel into eight episodes, following the Barbers as they hole up in their house, dodging accusations from law enforcement, inquiries from the media, and dirty looks from neighbors. As an added wrinkle, Andy is an assistant district attorney — specifically the assistant district attorney who was investigating Ben’s murder, up until his own son’s arrest.

Ahead of the show’s premiere on Apple TV+, Evans, Dockery, and Martell open up about deceit, trust, and family bonding.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is such a wild, twisty story. What was it that made each of you want to be a part of this?

MICHELLE DOCKERY: I was really compelled by the scripts that I read initially, which I think were the first three. I just thought it was an amazing story and quite different to most crime dramas, as it focuses more on the effects it has on the family. That certainly was an interest for me. And Mark is just such a brilliant writer. For me, it always starts with the material.

This show has a lot of the hallmarks of your traditional murder mystery thriller — red herrings, cliffhangers, hidden secrets. But it’s uniquely centered on this family relationship and the idea of trust. What was it about that theme of family that you guys wanted to explore?

DOCKERY: They differ in their journey so much, Andy and Laurie. So much of the struggle for her is the guilt that she carries: “Is this true? Is this my fault? Did I do something wrong?” And I think it really highlights what parents go through, the anxieties that come from being a parent, how you create this person.

This feels like a little bit of a departure for each of you. Did you get to try any new skills or explore any new territory?

DOCKERY: I mean, it’s always challenging playing Americans. I’m having to play them a lot at the moment. I had to work just that little bit harder because with an accent, it doesn’t come naturally to me. I learned with this one that it does take a bit more homework.

What do you think was your biggest challenge on this show overall?

DOCKERY: For me, it was how emotional the role was. There were moments where I would have to say to Morten, “How far should I go in the scene?” As we were piecing it together, I was always thinking to myself, “Am I crying in every scene?” [Laughs] It was important to strike a balance with Laurie [where] she wasn’t a complete wreck the whole time. That was a challenge, trying to find the moments where she really holds it together and the times where she was allowed to fall apart and be vulnerable.

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The series follows Massachusetts District Attorney Andy Barber (Chris Evans), who begins working with the cops to investigate the murder of an eighth grader in his small town and very quickly learns that the main suspect is a classmate — his son, Jacob (Jaeden Martell). But instead of examining the case through Jacob’s eyes, the story is told through Andy and his wife Laurie’s (Michelle Dockery) as they grapple with the accusations against the child they thought they knew.

Dockery was last seen on the small screen as a Southern con artist in TNT’s Good Behavior. But for Defending Jacob, the Brit best known as Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary didn’t even attempt to make her American accent a notoriously difficult Boston one.

“I love a challenge. If it had been a Boston accent, I would have gone for it. I would have dove in and hoped for the best,” says Dockery. “It’s not an easy accent, so I was pleased that it was just a general American accent for Laurie. I do really enjoy playing characters that have accents and are from completely different backgrounds from me. I’ve rarely played characters that are my own voice. I think I’ve done one project where it was my voice, everything else has been an accent.”

The entry point for the series, really, is through Andy and Laurie’s struggle to come to terms with the fact that maybe they didn’t know their child as well as they thought they did, and the ethically and morally questionable things that these normally law-abiding parents would do to protect him.

“This is, in many ways, a nightmare. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen to a parent,” says Bomback. As investigators, they’re way too biased. “They have everything to lose, and they’re going to bring so many facts to this that may be irrelevant, maybe aren’t. In many ways, my job was to give you this very subjective experience watching it, that you are the third parent in this equation and trying to weigh in. What do I think? Hopefully the audience at some points will say, ‘Oh, I’m sure he must have done it.’ ‘Oh, I don’t think he did do it.’ And part of the fun, for lack of a better word, is where does that intersect with where the parents’ heads are at that same moment?”

And while Andy makes some decisions that a good prosecutor would know skirt the boundaries of what is ethically acceptable, Laurie is consumed with guilt that she had dismissed some of Jacob’s questionable behavior in the past, and that she could potentially be culpable in a child’s death.

Says Dockery, “There are two parents that are both trying to cope in their own way. And at times it really clashes, and it begins to chip away at their relationship. Another great thing about the show is that it really explores a marriage and what something like this could do to a couple.”

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