Michelle Dockery Opens Up About Downton Abbey's Finale: "I Just Didn't Expect to Be that Emotional"

'Downton Abbey' Cast Photo Call
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

For cult followers of the PBS breakout hit show Downton Abbey, next January will be a particularly cold one. The drama will air its sixth and final season, and while there’s quite some time left before the first episode premieres, actress Michelle Dockery is already reminiscing on its success. As Lady Mary Crawley, Dockery has not only been able to excellently capture the essence of early 20th century Britain, but also sports elegant and timeless gowns. We quizzed the Emmy-nominated star on what it was like to film the show’s last season, which costumes are her favorite, and how she defines her personal style.

Why is this a bittersweet experience for you?

Michelle Dockery: "We had the last shooting day at Highclere a few weeks ago. And that was huge. And I wasn't quite expecting it. I thought I'd be able to walk away. I guess I just didn't expect to be that emotional. And Laura [Carmichael] and I walked hand in hand through the house one last time, and we were just in bits! So it feels like an end of an era. And it's just been joyous."

Did it feel like the timing was right or could you have played Lady Mary for a couple of seasons?

MD: "I think collectively, everyone felt this was the right time. And I think if we'd have kept going, we've had gone into maybe, possibly the general strike and then onwards. And then you're into the 30s. And then it becomes kind of Gosford Park territory. And then there's a whole other kind of shift, a new era, a new decade. So then, when can you stop?"

Should Julian Fellowes, the show’s creator, want you to play Lady Mary at some point, would you do it?

MD: "Well, there are rumors that have been circulating for this past year really. And it really depends on how everyone feels about it. I think the show is an ensemble, so there has to be a collective decision in that, I think. I don't think you could just grab two characters and create a movie. I think it has to be the show. So we'll see."

As far as her journey, what's been intriguing to you?

MD: "I was very surprised by how complicated she became and it wasn't what I was expecting. And she's gone through such a roller coaster really, losing her sister and going through a war, then losing Matthew. And then going through about nine suitors. She's had such a colorful life, so far. It's been really interesting playing her. And I'm always surprised where Julian takes it."

How have the people on the show changed your life?

MD: "Well, we've made friends for life. I mean, that's what's so special. That's what I'll take away with me is the experience and the people that I've got to know. We're like a family, and it's not just the cast. It's the crew as well. You become so close because you're pretty much living day in, day out, on that set, and of course, you share so much with one another, so that's what I'll take away with me."

When it comes to the period costuming, what will you not miss, and is there anything you've grown fond of?

MD: "I'm looking forward to slouching more. We're constantly sort of upright. So that will be nice to kind of let go of some of the etiquette. It's actually hard to think about stuff I won't miss. The costumes have really been amazing this year. We've had such talented designers."

Is there an all-time favorite of all the looks you've had on the show?

MD: "There's one I wore last year called the Fashion Show. It was a scene with Rosamund, with Samantha Bond, and it was navy blue. And it had like a panel here, like a piece. And it had these buttons that went down which, without them, it wouldn't have looked quite as beautiful. There was something so interesting about it from these little tiny details. And there's something very Chanel about it. We were kind of moving into that period. Anything that looks kind of Chanel at the moment, I love—that kind of simplicity and very clean lines. It's a wonderful period, and so feminine as well."

Do you enjoy dressing for the red carpet?

MD: "I work with a wonderful stylist, Micaela Erlanger. It's very much me, but it kind of has a bit of an edge to it, and I love wearing new designers when I can. For designers, it's about getting something from their collection on the carpet. And I respect how important that is. So Rosie Assoulin, I just fell in love with her collection, and she just kind of came out of nowhere for me. I mean, the fashion world is something I dip into."

How would you describe your personal style?

MD: "In the past, I said I was very sort of classic and simple, but lately, I like wearing neon shoes. I like to mix it up. I mean, there are certain styles that sometimes I don't think I can get away with. So I can't really describe. Sometimes I just put something on, and I know immediately. Sometimes like bold print, I maybe steer away from. I just try anything really. I think it's good to keep mixing it up. It's great, dressing up."

—With reporting by Scott Huver

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