Actor Dan Stevens attends Ermenegildo Zegna 'Essenze' Collection Launch Event at The Ermenegildo Zegna Boutique on December 3, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
- Season 3 airs in the USA starting Jan. 6
- He's starring in 'The Heiress' on Broadway with Jessica Chastain
- Actor tells 'The Telegraph' he made the decision last February
As American fans anticipate Season 3 of Downton Abbey which begins airing on PBS Jan. 6, Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, handsome heir to Downton Abbey, revealed in an interview he's not returning after Season 3.
In a story published in London's The Telegraph, Stevens says, "It is very strange to make it official especially since we are talking about it in the future perfect. I am not sure exactly what tense it is, but it is something very weird."
Masterpiece, which co-produces Downton Abbey, would not comment on Stevens' departure. "We're just asking that people tune in on Jan. 6 and enjoy the show," says Masterpiece's Ellen Dockser.
Season 3 already has aired in the U.K., and a Christmas special that seemed to set up an exit was broadcast over the weekend there.
Stevens tells The Telegraph he made the decision last February before filming of Season 3 began. "We were always optioned for three years," he says. "And when that came up, it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.
"It is a very monopolizing 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."
Stevens is currently performing with Jessica Chastain in The Heiress on Broadway.