Quite unintentionally, this site became dedicated to the complex and eccentric Michelle Dockery. My aim is to provide fresh material and perspective for her fans.
In the 'Michelle Dockery Professional Archive' link below you will find the most complete collection of her screen performances on the internet.
Staying on with Downton Abbey for Series 4 is unequivocally the best choice for Michelle IMHO. She is the most lauded actor on one of the most talked about TV shows in the world. Being on the show means staying in the public eye and having opportunities to do more film on the side. I do feel doing Series 5 may be of limited marginal utility for her career, but there is a safety net in staying longer. Michelle’s career is on an upward trajectory just by keep doing what she’s doing now. There’s simply no need to take a big career gamble.
Dan’s situation is different. His character on the show is not as rewarding to play. It’s telling he didn’t get the kind of award nominations other members of the cast received. I do think he would be better off staying, but I can see how a risk taker could be tempted away by other prospects.
He is known to be attached to two major films, but I don’t know enough about his role in them to draw conclusions. It seems to me his supporting part in The Fifth Estate doesn’t justify leaving Downton. It’s possible he may have gone after a project that either fell through or is on hold. Right now based on information available I think it’s too early to say if the decision to leave was the right one.
I don’t expect to see them cast as romantic leads together if that’s what you’re asking. These two will forever be identified by the characters they played on Downton Abbey, which is a good thing IMO. However it would simply be too distracting for the audience and what director want that in their movie.
That said, the British acting world is a small one and it’s not impossible their careers will cross paths again at some point. I’m thinking about that suspenseful moment between Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in The King’s Speech.
As you said Anonymous Content isn’t small but also Michelle isn’t their highest profile client by far (Emma Stone definitely leads that list). In regards to Dan definitely has a film lined up after The Heiress finishes in Feb which will film in South Africa (as reported earlier this year).
I wish I saw your reply to my post before I left a month ago. First let me say that while I think agents and managers are hugely influential, at the end of the day their clients have the last word. But I do think the corporate culture of the managers and their client’s clout make a difference.
While Anonymous Content do have a-list stars, I was referring to Michelle being near the top of her manager’s talent list. I’m not going to name the managers in this post. I don’t know why, it’s not a secret. But since everything in this post is totally none of my damn business, I want to err on the side of caution.
According to IMDBpro, Michelle’s manger has 37 clients. Of these the highest profile client is Sam Worthington. Michelle is probably her second most famous client, and maybe the most highly feted at the moment. She’s certainly her first tier, and prioritized accordingly.
Next we look at Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens, both with WME, the biggest talent group on the planet. Both of them are not only with William Morris, but WME has attached not one, but three managers to them. In fact both former Downton stars have the same three managers.
These three have on average about 40 clients each and represent such names as Emma Watson, Hugh Jackman, Richard Armitage, Helena Bonham Carter, Dustin Hoffman, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eric Bana, Elisabeth Moss, Keira Knightley…
JBF and DS are probably in the top half of their talent pool. But you get the impression that their managers have a lot of leverage in this relationship. These managers are hard to get, and if you want the career of Jackman or Armitage, or Knightly for example, its hard to go against the advice of your managers who have done very well for their big name clients. I don’t even want to go into Dan’s PR firm Slate and his Peikoff legal team. Needless to say Dan has assembled a formidable team around him, and you don’t hire so many people just to ignore their advice.
And really who knows, maybe leaving Downton is the best career move for them, as hard as it is for me to see it. For quite awhile I seriously wondered why Michelle wasn’t doing the same thing, signing on with these Hollywood heavy weights. But in time I’ve come to appreciate her wisdom. I think what she’s doing suits her personality very well, and in the long term that’s what matters.
I only know they are good friends based on conversations I’ve had with people months ago. She seemed quite protective of him from things said online, not that she pays much attention to it herself.
Obviously I don’t know the details of her friendships, and wouldn’t share if I did unless I was given permission to do so. But if you want my opinion, Michelle is not the sort of person who’s friendships are conditional on people’s career choices.
I’ve had a friend who left to do something else and it made life much harder for me. But I understood his reasons. It was what was best for him, and we are still buddies today. Actors have to deal with co-wrokers leaving more than most people. It’s all part of the profession.
To his co-stars Dan’s someone they worked with for three years and created a hugely successful show together. The British acting world being as small as it is, some of them will undoubtedly work together again. I personally find Dan’s decision to leave unwise and his media handling incomprehensible. But there’s a difference between fans and friends. They have every reason to wish him well.
SPOILER - don’t read if you haven’t seen Series 3
I don’t think I’m divulging any personal information, as the details here are from widely available industry resources. This is just my observation and I could be completely off-base.
So far we have Jessica Brown-Findlay quit the show and rumors of Dan Stevens perhaps to follow. What’s interesting to me is that both of them have the same American management agency - William Morris Endeavor. This is the world’s largest talent agency and they manage some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Jessica and Dan both have managers who primarily work for extremely well paid A-list clients. I wonder if they put a lot of pressure on their Downton Abbey clients to leave and take big career risks.
In contrast Michelle Dockery signed with a relatively small American team. I mean it’s not Jerry Maguire small, but compared to WME it’s down right cozy. She is almost the highest profile client her manager has. What’s interesting is Michelle’s British agent Christian Hodell had worked for William Morris in the Nineties. Did he advise Michelle to stay away from them? Because it’s hard to explain why she didn’t sign on with one of the bigger firms. WME does have Michelle on their list, but only as a musical talent.
I’ve been told an actor’s agent just gets them work, but their manager is like their stage mom. It seems to me the corporate culture of the management firm may be the story behind the drama we’re not hearing about.