‘Downton Abbey’ Star Dan Stevens Exiting After Season 3

by | December 26, 2012 at 9:16 AM | Downton Abbey

"Downton Abbey": Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley (Photo: Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE)

“Downton Abbey” is losing one of its beloved characters.

Actor Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley on the award-winning drama,  will leave at the end of the show’s upcoming third season and will not return for Season 4, which begins shooting in Britain this winter.

DVR the Season 3 Premiere of “Downton Abbey

Stevens confirmed his  long-rumored departure in an interview with the UK’s Telegraph.

Stevens says the “difficult decision” to leave was made when his contract was up for renewal before he began filming the show’s third season. “It felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment,” he admits. “From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.”

Stevens goes on to call “Downton” a “very monopolising 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 continues.

Season 3, which begins airing on PBS on January 6, concluded its UK run this past November. A special “Downton” Christmas episode which aired last night in the UK clarifies Matthew’s exit. (We’re guessing it won’t end with a happily ever after for him and Lady Mary.)

Stevens is currently starring in “The Heiress” on Broadway opposite Jessica Chastain, but he’s unsure of what lies beyond his stint on the Great White Way. “I genuinely don’t know exactly what is around the corner,” he states, “but I hope it will be something a little bit different.”

Watch a Promo for the Third Season of “Downton Abbey”: