EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Downton Abbey star Michael Fox talks Christmas special
Downton Abbey is set for a spectacular send off at 8.45pm on Christmas Day, and we’ll be watching it armed with wine, a turkey sandwich and a box of Kleenex’s finest.
It has been more than five years since Downton first premiered on ITV, introducing viewers to its unique blend of costume drama and soap opera. It has met unprecedented success. Today, the series is watched in more than 250 global territories, boasts 50 Emmy Award nominations (the most any non-American show has ever received), and has reportedly boosted the British economy by a whopping £22,000,000,000.
All good things must come to an end, however, and this one is going to be a particular tearjerker. We spoke to Downton Abbey star Michael Fox, who plays Andy in the hit series, about what heartbreak is lurking ahead.
What are your thoughts on the Downton Abbey Christmas special? Did you think it was a fitting end to the series?
I think the general consensus around the actors reading it was it was quite moving. It’s a really fitting end, it’s very moving. The characters who you want to end a certain way, they twist and turn and they don’t [end that way] necessarily. Without giving too much away, I think it’s going to be a really special final episode.
Would you say it’s a tearjerker?
…Yeah, we want that though, don’t we?
Do you think that fans will be satisfied with how the series wraps up?
Yeah, I think that Julian [Fellowes, Downton Abbey writer] has like a very good awareness of what they fans will kind of be hoping for with each character. I think fans will be happy. It’s always sad ending because you’ve become really attached to the characters, but I think it’s a fitting ending.
Were you happy specifically with how Andy’s story was wrapped up in the Christmas special?
What I think is clever is it doesn’t wrap up. It’s not real if everyone has this lovely bow on them and everything’s finished and we move on with our lives. The lives of these characters continue and we just finish watching them.
When I read the script I was like great, Andy’s got some cool stuff in this episode, so I was looking forward to doing some scenes. He’s got an interesting journey in this one. I was really chuffed to feature in a pretty poignant memorable episode and one that everyone’s gonna to be watching.
Would you be willing to do a film if that happens?
I don’t know what’s happening with that but I’m ready to go, I’ve got my footman outfit ironed and ready if Julian wants to call me up.
What would you like to happen to Andy after the series ends?
I think everybody has to find that area they’re passionate about. He’s not the most intellectual guy in the world, it always seemed like he’s ten steps behind everyone else. I’d like to see him find his thing in the countryside, thrive at it and be ten steps ahead of the people doing a similar job. Maybe he’ll start a 1925 rock band, you never know. Mrs P. can come in and play the harmonica, Mrs Hughes is bagpipes obviously. I can see it happening.
Your character is close to Thomas who attempted suicide last series. Will there be a resolution to that story and will Thomas find some happiness?
Everyone suddenly feels like they have a responsibility for him and the way they’ve treated him. Although he’s obviously been pretty horrendous over the last couple of years. Carson and Robert suddenly realise that perhaps they need to look after this guy more. I think the house has to adapt around him and hopefully that will lead to his happiness. But ultimately he can’t walk off into the sunset feeling completely content with his life, because he’s got another 50 years before it’s really acceptable socially and legally to kind of be content because people who were homosexual at that time… didn’t. I guess on some level he reaches a happiness, but he can’t be fully.
Will there be any romance for Andy in the special?
In the special? Oh, I don’t know.
It seems like Daisy might have a thing for him.
Well, Daisy has a history of getting a little twinkly eyed around footmen… I couldn’t possibly tell you, Andy is a curly haired, lovable chap, so you know, you never know. I find it really hard to be incognito about these things without just saying what happens, so I’m going to say I don’t know.
What has been your favourite moment filming Downton?
I think my first day I had on set was the most memorable time I’ve had on it, because walking into that set with the smoke and the gambling and the piano in the corner. It was surreal because it was made completely for the character I’m playing and the story I’m in. It’s a whole set purpose-built for my character. It was pretty daunting, pretty exciting. I would like to do that day again because I would like to do some acting and not be all nervous and “oh my god, I’m on Downton Abbey.”
Are you planning to watch Downton as a family on Christmas Day?
Our bigger family are going to watch it at theirs, I would find it a bit too overwhelming to be watching the Christmas special with 20 family members around. It’s hard watching it in a big group because people are asking: “whats that guy like?” “Is Jim a nice to work with, he looks like a nice guy to work with?” “Are those sets real?” You can’t watch it and appreciate it that much. So I hope we watch it with just a few of our smaller family.
What would be your ideal Christmas present?
I’ve been looking at record players. I want to build up a library of old records, so I would like Father Christmas to bring me a record player. Something that means something, someone’s put thought into it.
What have you got coming up in the pipeline?
A potential film thing next year that sounds very exciting. I’m going to America next year in January to strike while the old iron’s hot because Downton’s opened doors in America, we shall see what comes from that. There’s maybe the possibility of doing a Shakespeare play as well, which I would love to do. I’m just in the middle of sorting stuff out really.
What do you like watching on TV?
I watch The Thick of It, Toast of London, I’ve just got into Toast of London and I just think it’s the funniest thing. Peep Show. Nearly every night I watch Alan Partridge. I have a ridiculously knowledge of Alan Partridge, he is my number one go to TV watch.
The Downton Abbey Christmas Special airs at 8.45pm on Christmas Day on ITV.