Which Fan-Favorite ‘Downton Abbey’ Actor is Married to a ‘Harry Potter’ Actress?

You’d never know it but these two stars really are married, and have been for decades! And after we tell you about their marriage, you will most likely think, “Yes! That makes sense! They make sense!”

We’re talking about Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton, the industry veterans who appear together in the soon-to-open Downton Abbey movie.

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton
Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton | Danny Martindale/WireImage

How they met and married 

Mr. Carson and Dolores Umbridge, married? Call it a marriage made in fan-favorite heaven.

The couple met in 1982 when they were both in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre.

“We were doing a run-through and I remember thinking, ‘Who’s that old bloke sitting over there?’ I did. Really, I did. I was 26 and he was 34, that was old to me,” Staunton recalled to The Telegraph. “There I was, 5ft, and he is 6ft 2in. And rather dark and handsome. We worked together for a year and it was a slow burn rather than a heady rush of passion.”

They married in 1983 and had one daughter, Bessie, 10 years later.

Staunton says of Carter’s acting, “He has never been the sort of actor who yearns to play Hamlet. Maybe it’s because he came to acting from performing in the circus. He has always done just what he wants to do.”

How they each landed their unforgettable roles

Jim Carter knew he wanted to entertain people, he just wasn’t sure exactly how. So, he did what any enterprising young man might do.

“I went to a circus school in New York in the seventies and I was a tightrope walker in my 20s but you might not think it to look at me now,” he revealed via The Express. “I was a pretty good juggler and could ride a unicycle and I did a magic act. I stepped back from all that when it started getting in the way of acting.”

Carter’s resume as an actor is exemplary, ranging from Shakespeare in Love to Cranford to Ella Enchanted to, of course, Downton Abbey.

As for his wife Imelda Staunton, what better endorsement could she receive on her role as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies than to have Stephen King, the master of horror, say Umbridge is “the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.”

Her most notable role before Dolores Umbridge was the title role in the film, Vera Drake, for which she earned a BAFTA award, as well as an Academy Award nomination.

Staunton knows if it hadn’t been for Vera, there would be no Umbridge, telling IndieWire: “It was wonderful to be part of (the Harry Potter film franchise), but I wouldn’t have got that part without Vera Drake, which absolutely upped my profile. Vera Drake was the one that did it for me.”

Working together on the new Downton Abbey movie

Although the couple has been married almost 40 years, Jim Carter shares that he didn’t mind that they weren’t in any scenes in the Downton movie.

“I didn’t really work with [Imelda], a bit like here tonight we’re on the same red carpet but 10 feet apart,” Carter told Good Housekeeping at the film’s premiere. We went in [together] three days, but we never had any dialogue or scenes together, which I was quite pleased about because I didn’t want her getting the idea that I’d be the butler at home as well.”

As for the Downton Abbey movie, Carter confidently asserts, “For the fans, I think they will be very happy. It is everything people like about Downton Abbey in a two-hour film.”

Read more: Downton Abbey Refresher: Where We Left Off Upstairs