Michelle Dockery Was Thrilled To Return To ‘Downton Abbey’ After ‘Demanding’ ‘Anatomy Of A Scandal’ Role

Michelle Dockery was more than happy to leave Anatomy of a Scandal behind when Downtown Abbey resumed.

Michelle Dockery has recently captivated audiences following her performance in Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal. In the series, the actress played a lawyer who takes on a high-profile rape case against a member of the British parliament. The drama has received a lot of praise since its release and in fact, it even became the streamer’s most-watched show.

2022 also continued to be a busy year for Dockery as she also starred in the sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era. And while it did seem like the English actress had a great time working on her Netflix show, she was also quite relieved to be working on Downton once again soon after. In fact, Dockery very much welcomed the change in production work.

Michelle Dockery Was ‘Instantly Drawn’ To Playing Kate Woodcroft In ‘Anatomy Of A Scandal’

Dockery had taken on various types of roles since landing her Emmy-nominated role as Lady Mary Crawley in the British series Downton Abbey. And so, when it came to looking for new possible shows to work on, the English actress wasn’t just going to accept anything that came her way. In the case of Anatomy of a Scandal though, Dockery found herself thoroughly intrigued.

“When you find something that you can’t put the script down—you know that you’re onto a good thing,” the actress explained. I think after the #MeToo movement we are much more sensitive to the conversation around these issues.”

And among all the characters on the show, Dockery immediately felt like she had to be Kate. “After reading the script, I was instantly drawn to Kate,” she revealed. “She was so unreadable in the early episodes, and the arc of her character—just brilliant, and really unexpected.”

Interestingly, the team behind the show also felt like Dockery was the right person to bring Kate to life. “With Michelle, we talked about how much there was to hold back from the audience, and not to give away, but also to keep that level of intrigue,” S.J. Clarkson, who directed all the episodes, explained. “She comes on set and she’s learned everything, she’s completely prepared.”

Here’s Why Michelle Dockery Was Thrilled To Go From ‘Anatomy Of A Scandal’ To ‘Downton Abbey

Playing a lawyer who is eventually revealed to be a victim of sexual assault herself may have been satisfying for an actress of Dockery’s caliber. However, it also turned out to be emotionally demanding, as Clarkson herself had warned in the beginning.

“We had to do those scenes of her breaking down in Episode 6 in week 2 or 3. It was really early on,” Clarkson explained. “I really pushed her, and I said, ‘This has got to be a full-on breakdown, because if she holds it in for the whole series, she’s bottled it up, bottled it up, bottled it up.’ She just went for it.”

Melissa James Gibson, who co-created the show with David E. Kelley, also admired how Dockery approached playing someone who starts to unravel as the series was coming to an end. “Kate is a woman who, by all appearances, seems to be successfully keeping such a lid on her emotions and is so confident in her trajectory. But her past is insisting itself, it’s just, like, bubbling up, ready to explode,” Gibson explained. “I think it was an interesting challenge for an actor, and Michelle pulls it off so beautifully that there’s just this swirling underneath her very buttoned-up exterior.”

After portraying Kate for six episodes, Dockery also felt the need for a change. Luckily for her, a second Downton Abbey film was about to go into production, and it’s just what the actress needed after playing someone as emotionally draining as Kate.

“It’s rare, actually, as an actor, to go back to something so often,” Dockery also remarked. “Most of the time, you’re meeting new people… It’s a new character, a new cast and crew—and you’re constantly starting again. The freshness of that is great, but it’s lovely to be able to step back into shoes that you’re really comfortable with and be with your gang.”

At the same time, it’s also worth noting that Downton was the show that, arguably, launched Dockery into stardom. In fact, it’s also the very series that allowed the actress to purchase her first home. “I’ve got a picture of myself somewhere, holding the key to the front door,” she even revealed. “It was a big deal.”

Meanwhile, aside from Anatomy of a Scandal and Downton Abbey: A New Era, fans can also catch Dockery in the upcoming action film Boy Kills World, which also stars Bill Skarsgård and Famke Janssen. At the same time, the actress also voices Lady Olivia in the Disney series Amphibia.

As for doing another Downton Abbey movie, it is unclear yet if one would happen. That said, Dockery believes that the third film is always possible. “I think the story is always ongoing,” she explained.

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