Last month's report that Dan Stevens will leave "Downton Abbey" after third season has been confirmed. The actor, who plays Matthew Crawley on the period drama, has given the official word that he won't be back for the upcoming fourth season.
"We were always optioned for three years," he told The Telegraph. "And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things. It is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be."
Stevens' departure has been explained in the special episode airing on Christmas. His character, Matthew, [Spoiler alert] was killed in a car accident under a rather ironic circumstance. He was rushing home to spread the good news about his first baby's birth when his motorcar was struck by a delivery lorry. The episode pulled in 7.3 million viewers.
Stevens is starring in a Broadway revival of "The Heiress" with Jessica Chastain up to February. "New York for me is going to be one big adventure," he said in October, the first time he hinted his exit. "I will be taking the whole family out and we will be there for six months. I don't know if I will be returning to 'Downton'."
Filming of the fourth season of "Downton Abbey" will begin in February. The third season meanwhile, will start airing in the United States on January 6.