Downton Abbey stars take on other roles

What's happening to certain Downton Abbey stars is downright criminal.

Joanne Froggatt, the TV drama's vulnerable Anna Bates, is morphing into a 19th-century serial killer in PBS' Dark Angel. Michelle Dockery, who plays coolly elegant Lady Mary, is a sleazy American ex-convict in TNT's Good Behavior. And Kevin Doyle, the good-hearted Mr Molesley, is a bad-hearted police detective in Netflix's Happy Valley.

The end of Downton Abbey on PBS after six seasons means new career paths for its stars, with both the upstairs and downstairs crew embracing change-of-pace roles - although devoted viewers may want to enshrine them forever as their beloved characters.

"Anybody who's watched and loved Downton is going to remember these characters for the rest of their lives," says executive producer Gareth Neame. But cast members "can't put a pin in their career and say that's it".

British actors are especially keen on variety and like "to move away from things they've been previously successful with", Neame says.

Froggatt says change is part of acting's allure.

"After playing a role that you've loved playing for years, there is a certain part of you that goes: 'I fancy doing something a bit different,'" she says.

That's the path taken by Dan Stevens, who's avoided lord-of-the-manor roles since playing Matthew Crawley in the drama's first three seasons. Among his upcoming projects: the films Beauty and the Beast and sci-fi drama Colossal, and Legion, a Marvel Comics-based TV pilot for FX.

After Sunday's Downton Abbey finale, here's where to find its former occupants: Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham), playing Lord Louis Mountbatten in the Indian independence movie Viceroy's House; Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), in a sibling role from the 1940s romance, A United Kingdom; Brendan Coyle (John Bates), as English politician Augustine Birrell in the Irish film The Rising; Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora), writing and recording her fourth album with the band Sadie and the Hotheads.

And more: Lilly James (Lady Rose), in the classic role of Elizabeth Bennet, in an adaptation of a Jane Austen parody, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Allen Leech (Tom Branson), in the film Hunter's Prayer, based on Kevin Wignall's novel For the Dogs; Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley), as lonely wife Pauline in British TV series Brief Encounters, where she's one of four women whose lives change when they start selling exotic lingerie at house parties.

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