Get ready to see the Crawleys again! A new Downton Abbey movie, titled Downton Abbey: A New Era, is set to be released next year, with most of the cast expected to reprise their roles. The upstairs people will once again be played by Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, and Elizabeth McGovern, the Countess of Grantham. Maggie Smith (Cousin Violet) and Penelope Wilton (Isobel Grey, Lady Merton) are also appearing in the movie. The downstairs people, led by Jim Carter’s Mr. Carson, are back to playing their roles from the series. News of a second Downton movie had been around ever since the first one came out, but things were only really confirmed when a teaser trailer finally came out a few weeks ago.
One actor everyone’s excited to see in the sequel is Allen Leech, who played downstairs-turned-upstairs person Tom Branson. Outside his work in the Downton Abbey films, Leech has appeared in multiple projects. Where else have we seen Allen Leech in?
Downton Abbey series
When listing Allen Leech’s previous work, one can’t just ignore the show that made his career, Downton Abbey. Leech played Tom Branson, the socialist chauffeur who, from serving the Crawley family, eventually becomes a member of the Crawley family himself. Leech appeared in the series for 45 episodes. He also appeared in the first film. The show is close to Allen’s heart, telling Today that he had plenty of good memories from the show. When asked what the defining moment of his character was, Leech answered: “I think the most powerful moments for Tom Branson had to be the death of his wife. And then I think one of the most powerful things, as well, was his acceptance of the family and his relationship with Mary. That was one of my favorite things to play throughout, how Tom Branson and Lady Mary became brother and sister, because Michelle Dockery’s also one of my dearest friends.”
Filming the scene was exhausting, according to Leech. “It was actually quite arduous because it was over three days,” he said. “So it was the first time I ever had to do something where you’re in a heightened emotional sense for so long. And it’s incredibly draining. And it was very sad. She was the first of the cast to leave. Hot on her tails was Dan Stevens. I mean, it was a massacre. It was like the ‘Downton Abbey’ red wedding, in that season.” When his on-screen wife had died in the show, Leech originally thought that that was also the end of his Downton Abbey journey, but showrunner Julian Fellowes had other plans: “I thought my journey was over when Sybil died in the show,” he said. “And then Julian (Fellowes) gave me the great gift of him trying to assimilate into the family and create his life there and having all the turmoils that go with that, because of his relationship with the family and his Irish Republican views. So it was a great challenge, as an actor. And it was a great joy.”
Bohemian Rhapsody depicts the story of the band Queen, particularly its lead singer Freddie Mercury, as they rose from obscurity to become one of the most celebrated bands in the world. The movie stars Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Gwilym Lee as guitarist Brian May, Ben Hardy as drummer Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello as bassist John Deacon. In the film, Allen Leech plays Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury’s personal manager and lover. Describing his role in the movie, Leech said to The Advocate: “Freddie and Paul were two incredibly lonely people. They saw that in each other, and that’s where Paul Prenter found his power over Freddie.”
While the cast received acclaim for their performances, the movie critics weren’t as impressed, with Kate Stables of Sight & Sound implying that the film could have done better to portray the incredible life of Mercury: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Bryan Singer’s trite, tidy but powerfully soundtracked biopic of Freddie Mercury’s fantastic journey from immigrant baggage handler to rock god renders the outsize ride of his life with surprising mundanity.” Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times was harsher, writing: “The only redeeming value of Bohemian Rhapsody is it’s so bad, there’s plenty of room left for a much better biopic about the one and only Freddie Mercury.”
The Imitation Game
Allen Leech appeared in The Imitation Game, a movie about computer scientist Alan Turing, as John Cairncross, a real-life civil servant and spy during World War II. The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke. In an interview with USA Today, Allen Leech explained his approach towards taking on the role: “I really had to examine my own beliefs in relation to what I would have done in that situation,” he says. “John Cairncross felt that he was genuinely helping the war effort and that what he was doing was right, and for that reason the character is more interesting.” The Imitation Game was well-received during its release, with David Stratton for The Australian writing: “What could have been a very dry and earnest film emerges, under the intelligent direction of Norwegian Morten Tyldum working from a screenplay by Graham Moore, as a gripping and still rather extraordinary story.”
Man About Dog
One of Leech’s earliest and lesser-known projects, Man About Dog is an Irish comedy film starring Leech, Tom Murphy, Ciaran Nolan, and Sean McGinley. For his role as Mo Chara, a main character in the film, Leech was given an Irish Film and Television Awards nomination.
In Fear is a British psychological film starring Iain de Caestecker, Alice Englert, and Allen Leech. The movie received mostly positive reviews from critics, with Kyle Smith for the New York Post writing: “A wicked little horror film in which nearly all of the violence takes place in your head, “In Fear” expertly builds terror out of not much more than two people driving around in a car.”