It was February when we first met up with Dan Stevens. He was standing in a wet, muddy field in Cornwall in southern England, delighting a group of extras with an exaggerated American accent. The actor was between takes on Summer in February, an indie film he was producingand starring in, about a 19th-century English artists’ commune.
Mr. Stevens was tired. He’d been rattling between Cornwall and London while shooting the third season of Downton Abbey (currently airing in the U.K., but not due out here until January), in which he plays the excruciatingly eligible Matthew Crawley, heir apparent to the old English estate. It is his career-defining role, and the breakout success of the show over the past few years has opened a number of doors on both sides of the Atlantic. He says it’s been the most productive period of his life, and the variety of his ventures that is truly impressive.
First there is the Man Booker, Britain’s most prestigious literary prize, which was last week awarded to Hilary Mantel’s sequel Bring Up The Bodies. While appearing on BBC’s The Review Show in 2011, Mr. Stevens launched into a scathing diatribe about the “readability” requirement for that year’s competition winner. A couple of weeks later, he received a phone call from Sir Peter Stothard (this year’s chairman) inviting him to be on the 2012 panel. Read More