Downton’s Michelle Dockery on Lady Mary’s modern love life: “She’s a little bit more decisive”

"Everyone loved Matthew and I think it’s important she doesn’t move on too quickly. She doesn’t want to make the wrong choice"

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Last year was a tough one for Lady Mary. We started series five with the eldest Crawley sister suffering after the shocking death of her husband Matthew – and struggling to adapt to her life as a new mother. 

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Now, a year or so on, life is a little brighter for Mary. And series five might just see her embark on a new relationship. Maybe. If last series taught us anything, it’s that Mary’s not the sort who makes decisions rashly… 

We sat down with Michelle Dockery for a chat before the fifth series starts on ITV. 

Things are looking up for Mary this year… 

It’s very different this year because last year she was coming through the grief and the majority of the time was dressed in black so this year it’s been very different because she’s really embracing her new life.

She’s got her humour back and now that she’s through the grieving period it’s nice to have her back again. I see it like a new start for her and she’s just biding her time when it comes to romance and just seeing what happens.

So there still aren’t any decisions on the horizon? 

She is getting to a point where she’s just being a little bit more decisive between the two of them… [There’s a scene in episode one where] she says to Anna, ‘Why can’t I have a relationship with a man before I decide he’s the one I want to settle down with?’ It feels like such a modern thing for a woman to be saying at that time. That’s why I love playing her – she’s very complex, very modern. 

Do you want her to hurry up and make her choice? 

Everyone loved Matthew and I think it’s important she doesn’t move on too quickly. She wants it to be the right decision which is what she says to Gillingham. She doesn’t want to make the wrong choice.

Will we see any more of her son George this series? 

They’re a bit older now so we’re working with them a little bit more. There are more scenes with them. They’re gorgeous, the twin boys – they’re actually two of triplets, there’s a girl, too, but of course she can’t play George. It’s a very different feeling when they’re there… It’s a whole different dynamic with the children because a lot of it depends on how they’re feeling and everyone’s very sensitive around that. 

How do you think Mary would react to Edith’s secret child? 

I think that actually Edith’s situation she would take great sympathy with. She may not show it but she has a child herself so to know that her sister has been through the same, I’m sure that she would find sympathy for her. Me and Laura [Carmichael] love playing that meanness between each other. It’s more fun for us than when they’re ever being nice to each other which is rare. They’re always really great scenes to play.

Is there anything you’d like to see Mary tackle in the future? 

I wouldn’t mind seeing her play a bit of tennis. There are images of the twenties – they were playing it back then. I’d have to have lessons, wouldn’t I? 

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Downton Abbey returns to ITV on Sunday 21st September at 9:00pm