Gillian Anderson turned down Downton Abbey role

Downton AbbeyX Files actress Gillian Anderson has revealed she turned down a role on Julian Fellowes hit period drama Downton Abbey.

During an interview with TV Guide magazine Anderson revealed that she had been offered a role on ITV’s Downton Abbey but turned it down. Anderson was being interviewed about her role of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations which aired in the UK on BBC One over Christmas and was a critical and ratings hit. When asked about the new adaptation of Great Expectations the actress replied ‘Hopefully people will embrace it with the same love that flowed toward Downton Abbey,…I was actually offered a part in Downton.”

It has since been revealed that Anderson was offered the role of Countess Cora Crawley which went to Elizabeth McGovern. Downton Abbey has been a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the second series drawing huge ratings to PSB in America where it airs. The second series was a similar success on ITV1 in the UK though there were some accusations about “silly plots”.

A third series of Downton is currently in production with Shirley MacLaine, Matt Milne, Cara Theobald and Lucille Sharp joining the cast.  It was recently reported that producers had signed up cast members to a fourth and fifth season – should ITV commission – but several stars such as Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens and Siobhan Finneran had not – at that point – signed new contracts.

Gillian Anderson is best known for playing Dana Scully on Fox‘s cult drama series The X Files between 1993 and 2002 reprising her role for two feature films – fans are hopeful of further entries in the film franchise. Since the television finale of the X Files the actress has appeared in a number of period pieces on British television such as Any Human Heart, Bleak House and The Crimson Petal and the White.

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