The 1 ‘Downton Abbey’ Actress Who Isn’t in the Movie

With the release this week of the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie, fans are getting caught up in the excitement of returning to majestic Downton, its elegant costumes, and the always entertaining drama. From finally meeting John and Anna Bates’ baby to seeing Lady Mary once again roll her eyes at… everyone, Downton fans are eager to catch up.

It was a big disappointment, however, to learn that one fan-favorite actress would not be returning for the movie that reunites most of her castmates. Here’s more on who that is, what she’s busy doing now, and her reaction to not being part of the new movie.

Highclere Castle | ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images

Her life before and after ‘Downton Abbey’

English actress Lily James won’t be in the new film. She joined Downton Abbey, the show that basically put her on the map, two years after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

To be cast in a popular and successful drama such as Downton was transformative for the actress.

“It’s so hard coming out of drama school to claim your right to be taken seriously, and even get auditions,” she told The Irish Examiner. “Now, I’m getting auditions, I know what I’m doing next, I’m so lucky and I really don’t want it to stop.”

She added, “I’m having the best time and I’m getting to work with people I’d never dreamed I’d work with.”

Clearly, her body of work confirms that, with major roles in films including Baby Driver, Darkest Hour, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again alongside Meryl Streep and most recently, the fun and nostalgic Yesterday with Himesh Patel and Ed Sheeran.

Lily James | Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

Why wasn’t James brought back for the new ‘Downton Abbeymovie?

James’ Downton nonconformist, sunny, and energetic character, Rose McClare, appeared in the PBS drama starting in Season 3 and the news of her absence in the film is keenly felt. Why not bring all that youth and cheer to the new movie?

Radio Times reports that James’ success was behind her not being invited back for the Downton Abbey movie by series producers Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame. That perhaps they were concerned she’s having so much success post-Downton and would have too much on her plate.

Neame jokingly told Entertainment Weekly, “She can’t be [in it]; she’s in every other film in the world at the moment. Lily is now a big star, and it would’ve been incredibly difficult for her to find time in her schedule to come and play essentially a supporting role in Downton when her career was in a different place when she was with us.”

“In the end, we all felt it was better to leave her in America,” Neame said of the Lady Rose character.

However, James stated that “it wasn’t schedules” keeping her from appearing in the movie.

She told People, “My character Rose moved off to New York, so it would be farfetched to bring her back. I would have loved to have come back for a scene, but for a movie it can’t be like a Christmas special and it needs to be a focused storyline… There was no space for Rose.”

James is dating a prince

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A man of adventure. #TheCrown

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On the personal side of things, James is dating fellow actor, Matt Smith, known for his portrayal of His Royal Highness Prince Philip in The Crown as well as for his work on Doctor Who.

The couple met while working on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. They have been together for almost five years.

The Downton Abbey movie hits theaters on Sept. 20.

Read more here: The Real-Life Royal Visit That Inspired the New ‘Downton Abbey’ Movie