Jim Carter makes his mark as “Downton Abbey” butler

In this undated photo provided by PBS from left, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley, Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley, Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Jim Carter as Mr Carson, and Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes from the television series “Downton Abbey.” “Downton” returns for its sixth and final season on January 3, 2016 at 9 pm ET on PBS. In the season people will be able to see the romance between Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson blossom. (AP / PBS Photo, Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE, Nick Briggs)

NEW YORK (AP) – In the splendid world of the characters of Downton Abbey the chief steward, Mr. Carson, is perhaps one of the most charming and important in uniting aristocracy with servants and among the wonderful cast of «Downton AbbeyAn equally important figure is Jim Carter, who plays him.

After all this is the saga of a noble castle and those who inhabit it during the first decades of the 20th century in Great Britain, And Mr. Carson is the person with the power to make the house work. It bridges the gap between the elite on the upper floors and the busy servants on the lower floors. His word, beyond the policies and whims of the aristocratic Crawley clan, is law to those under his command.

Carter makes Carson’s bad mood heroic and his unwavering sense of duty adorable to the viewer.

As “Downton” returns for its sixth and final season (Sunday at 9 PM ET on PBS’s “Masterpiece”), Mr. Carson’s humanity will be exposed more than ever as his painfully distant courtship with the housekeeper. , the Mrs. Hughes (played by Phyllis Logan) finally blooms.

“It was the slowest cooking romance of all time,” Carter laughed. “But apparently the public wanted it to happen, and so did we.”

What happens, including an unlikely interlude in the first episode “which we hope will melt several hearts in the country,” is just one of several resolutions as the series reaches the mid-1920s. What will be the fate of Downton Abbey’s troubled estate, held by Lord and Lady Crawley (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern) with less and less certainty? Will stubborn daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) refuse to say yes to her latest suitor? Will valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his wife, head maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt), see their dream of parenthood cruelly snatched away?

Photo: pbs.org
Photo: pbs.org

Viewers have been waiting for this and other responses from a period drama that has remained a cultural phenomenon since its US debut five years ago.

For the 67-year-old Briton Carter, the path to “Downton” began long ago, when he stopped studying law at the University of Sussex and joined a theater company an act he compares to “A door to the promised land.”

After that, he began working in theater, film and television in a career that has kept him busy and happy enjoying the process of playing each role, free from worries about how the final product will look to critics and audiences.

“I have no ambitions in the acting world,” he explains. “I just have to get out of the house and work and be with people.”

After auditioning for Mr. Carson, he thought it would be nice to keep the role, “I came out thinking ‘I should be very close if they don’t give it to me.”

One of the things he liked best was how starchy Carson had a humorous side to it.

Julian Fellowes, who created “Downton Abbey” and wrote each of the episodes, “knows it’s funny,” Carter said, “when my character says things like ‘A maid in the dining room with the duke ?! Over my dead body!’ I love interpreting those moments.

But just by opening the dining room door and saying “Dinner is ready my lady”, Carter (as the actor who plays him) achieves an imposing figure. He is a robustly built man with an expressive face and most important of all, his voice: vibrant, raucous, a threat to anyone who will listen.

“I can’t sing, I’m not in tune,” says Carter when asked about his powerful voice, although he agrees, “it’s strong.” And it turns out that it also has other advantages: “My friends used to pass me to crying babies to hug and hum, the vibration of my chest made them sleep.”

His presence has made Carter one of the most distinctive characters on “Downton” for fans around the world.

He somehow managed to slip from his Manhattan hotel to Herald Square unnoticed. “But in Boston they arrested me 30 times,” he said. In Nashville, Tennessee, Cambodia, Win. After 45 years of acting ‘Downton’ it’s an unexpected gift because I’ve never worked for fame or money. “

The “gypsy caravan” approach to his career has kept him from suffering from his imminent departure from “Downton”, even as he was filming the last scene with a group of colleagues in the hall where the servants eat.

“When we finished the other actors were crying and I thought ‘by God!’ But when the producers came out to thank them, I thought ‘we have to thank the production team too, because they have been with us every moment’ So I said ‘guys, your great work and your skill …’ and suddenly I couldn’t speak, I started to cry with the other actors and all those big guys with team tattoos who were in tears. “

“I definitely hadn’t expected that,” says Carter thoughtfully.

Fans can be sure of one thing as they will also shed tears before the end of “Downton.”

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Jim Carter makes his mark as “Downton Abbey” butler