‘The Witches’: This ‘Downton Abbey’ Star Had a Cameo in the Original Movie
The 1990 version of The Witches is one of Anjelica Huston’s most iconic roles. Her portrayal of the sinister Grand High Witch, now being played by Anne Hathaway in the 2020 remake, was as creepy and evil as one would want in a Halloween movie. (That incredible prosthetic makeup helped, too.)
The original interpretation of the Roald Dahl story starred Huston and other famous faces like Rowan Atkinson and Fleabag‘s Bill Paterson, but there was also a beloved actor from Downton Abbey included in the cast that you might have missed.
‘The Witches’ 1990 cast included a lot of famous faces
The 1990 version of The Witches stars Huston as the Grand High Witch, Atkinson as hotel manager Mr. Stringer, Mai Zetterling as lovable, witch-wary grandmother Helga, and Jasen Fisher as Luke, Helga’s grandson who gets turned into a mouse by the gaggle of witches.
The coven of truly terrifying women are convening for an annual convention at the Hotel Excelsior at the same time Helga and Luke are taking a vacation. Helga, mind you, has been hunting down the Grand High Witch ever since her childhood best friend was “rubbed out” by the coven, so the fact that they ended up in the same place at the same time was kismet.
Luke finds himself hiding in the ballroom where the witches convention is being held, and he hears their nefarious plot to kill all of the children in England: they’re going to turn them into mice with the help of a magic potion developed by Huston, and then kill the mice.
This plan is ultimately foiled, as Mouse Luke sneaks a bottle of the potion into the soup being prepared for the witches’ dinner. They’re all turned into mice, and Luke and Helga live happily ever after.
But eagle-eyed fans might notice a familiar face among the kitchen staff when Luke is trying to get the potion into the soup.
Mr. Carson actor Jim Carter plays the head chef in 1990’s ‘The Witches’
The head chef is played by none other than Jim Carter, who played the beloved Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey.
He only appears in brief moments throughout the kitchen scene as Mouse Luke is desperately trying to get to the pot of soup. He ends up crawling into the chef’s pants, making Carter properly freak out. And in the chaos of the chef and his staff trying to find the mouse and get rid of it, Luke is able to escape and sneak over to the soup to poison it.
Carter’s career got started long before his Downton days, so it’s no surprise that he’s popped up in a bunch of beloved films over the years.
Jim Carter’s career spans decades
While Downton Abbey is no doubt one of Carter’s career highlights, the 72-year-old actor has had a steady career since the 1980s. He’s appeared in Oscar-winning films like Shakespeare In Love and fantastical adventures like Ella Enchanted (yes, that’s Mr. Carson as the blue ogre Nish).
And fun fact, the Shakespeare in Love cast also included The Crown Season 5 star Imelda Staunton—Carter’s wife! The two met while cast in a production of Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre in 1982, and they’ve been together ever since. Staunton and Carter most recently acted together in the Downton Abbey movie. The more you know!