Rumors of Matthew Crawley’s demise have not been greatly exaggerated.
Multiple sources confirm to TVLine that Dan Stevens is not expected to return for Downton Abbey‘s fourth season — at least not on a full-time basis.
As TVLine first reported back in March, Stevens — who is currently appearing on Broadway in a revival of The Heiress — was one of a handful of Downton regulars who opted not to re-up through Seasons 4 and 5. At the time, series creator Julian Fellowes downplayed the buzz, telling me, “A lot of stuff started up because he’s going to be on Broadway, but it’s a limited run. But everyone pounced on that.”
And that fact remains, Stevens could very well change his mind between now and February, which is when Abbey‘s fourth season is expected to begin shooting. (Season 3 finally bows stateside on Jan. 6). But as of now, it appears Lady Mary will soon be following sister Edith to Spinsters Anonymous — unless, of course, Fellowes opts to recast.
And while one insider insists that option is not off the table, Fellowes recently confessed to EW, “I can’t see us doing that.”