Actor Dan Stevens, who rose to international fame for his role as Matthew Crawley in British period drama "Downton Abbey," has confirmed rumors that he will not be returning to the show's fourth season. Considering that the show's Season 3 Christmas special just aired in Britain, Stevens joked that “It is very strange to make it official especially since we are talking about it in the future perfect." He added, “I am not sure exactly what tense it is, but it is something very weird.” (Making it weirder still for Americans, as Season 3 premieres in the U.S. on Jan. 6.)
But in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Stevens admits that he made the decision before filming for the third season had even begun. “We were always optioned for three years,” he said. “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."
Stevens explained that, although he appreciated the new fame, “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,” he added. “I don’t see money or a particular status as an actor as a goal but I want to do the best work I can in as interesting a range of roles as I can. And I think a moment like this is quite unique and presents those opportunities more than ever before."
But Stevens remains silent on any future projects, offering only that there are "some exciting opportunities." Currently, the actor is starring in the Broadway play "The Heiress," alongside Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn.