'Downton Abbey' EP Says Talk of Dan Stevens' Departure Should Be Taken With 'Pinch of Salt'

Dan Stevens Matthew Crawley Downton Abbey S2 - H 2012

Dan Stevens Matthew Crawley Downton Abbey S2 - H 2012

Downton Abbey is still having a moment. The British import, which received three Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning, continues to linger in headlines despite not having aired a new episode in the U.S. since February.

Nearing the end of its third season's U.K. run and already commissioned for a fourth, the latest rumor has been of star Dan Stevens and the suggestion that the actor may not reprise his role of Matthew Crawley. Executive producer Gareth Neame says fans might be getting concerned over nothing.

"There's been so much speculation about this cast," Neame told The Hollywood Reporter, reacting to its latest accolades. "The thing with the show is, because we don't make a long run -- we shoot about 11 hours of TV a year -- our actors have the opportunity to go and do other work."

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For Stevens, that includes a current run on Broadway in The Heiress. His obligation to the play, while limited, is what prompted talk of him potentially not returning to the hit show.

And while Neame would not give a definitive answer on Stevens' future with the series, he was matter-of-fact in his assessment of Downton Abbey's somewhat ubiquitous status in the media.

"As to which cast is coming or going, we don't comment on speculation," he says, "but 95 percent of what I read in the papers is completely inaccurate, so that should be taken with a pinch of salt."

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Downton Abbey officially concludes its British run with this month's Christmas special, but the third season doesn't premiere on PBS until Jan. 6. That significant lag time has prompted reports that PBS is looking for a way to shorten the delay -- something Neame is very much interested in.

"It's unrealistic to have one audience watch the show and [the other] wait until January," says Neame. "With access to content, a lot people are not going to wait ... I think PBS is wonderful and very supportive, but they're perhaps not the most swift to change."

Downton Abbey's three nominations include best TV drama and acting nods for Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery.