Paul Giamatti will join the cast of ‘Downton Abbey’: what in the world…?

Paul Giamatti is joining the cast of Downton Abbey! For the love of…!!! Once I got over my initial shock, I guess it sort of makes sense. They’re not just going to bizarrely introduce an American character with no connection to anyone – Paul Giamatti is going to be playing Cora’s brother, an American “maverick” and “playboy” who I assume has come to visit. OMG, think about Paul Giamatti opposite Violet (Maggie Smith). Those scenes will be… interesting.

Downton Abbey is bracing for another American invasion. TVLine has learned exclusively that Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man) is joining the PBS phenom’s Season 4 cast as Harold Levinson, the maverick, playboy brother of Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and uncle to Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Edith (Laura Carmichael).

Giamatti, who earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his title role in HBO’s miniseries John Adams, is set to appear in the Season 4 finale alongside returning guest star Shirley MacLaine (as Cora and Harold’s mother, Martha).

Exec producer and Carnival Films Managing Director Gareth Neame describes Harold as “free-spirited” and promises that both Giamatti and MacLaine will “upset the Grantham’s apple cart” in the finale.

Giamatti joins fellow Season 4 newbies Dame Harriet Walters (as an old friend of Maggie Smith’s Dowager), Nigel Harman (as a visiting valet named Green), and Tom Cullen (as a new love interest for Mary).

Abbey‘s fourth season will premiere stateside on PBS on Jan. 5, 2014.

[From TV Line]

Yes, I was going to mention John Adams! Giamatti was incredible in that HBO miniseries, and that means he’s no stranger to costume dramas. But the world of Downton is so, so soapy and melodramatic, it’s hard to think Giamatti’s talent should be wasted this way.

You guys, I think we need to prepare ourselves for Season 4. I think it’s going to full-on weirdness and soap opera drama, even more so than the bizarre storylines from season 2. Granted, at this point I’m not coming into Downton thinking that it’s going to be high-quality television or that it’s anything other than a soap opera with costume p0rn and location p0rn. But Julian Fellowes is literally throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this next season. We’re going to have the “first black character”. That black widow Lady Mary is getting a new boyfriend just months after Cousin Matthew died. And we still have to deal with that annoying flapper chick Rose. Season 4 is going to be rough.

Photos of Giamatti on the set of the Spider-Man sequel, courtesy of WENN.

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25 Responses to “Paul Giamatti will join the cast of ‘Downton Abbey’: what in the world…?”

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  1. Belle Epoch says:

    Ugh. That is all.

  2. Chicagogurl says:

    What the heck is he wearing? Lol! Giamatti with a face tat and gold chain is kind of hysterical but I’m assuming he pulls it off.

    • Seany D says:

      Those are set photos from The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

      • Chicagogurl says:

        I know. it says that under the pic. Just…in what universe…picturing him at the drive thru or behind you at 7/11 dressed like this. Funny.

  3. epiphany says:

    Have no idea what sort of role they would assign him, but he’s a brilliant actor, so it’s got to be stellar!

    • Diane says:

      Agree. No matter what he does, he does it well. Can you imagine him with Shirley MacLaine if she comes back? What a family!!!!!

    • Turtle Dove says:


      Amazing actor. Plus, I love a god period drama, so adding him will be icing on the cake.

    • Becky1 says:

      He’s a great actor. I think he’ll definitely be a good addition to the show.

  4. Naye in VA says:

    As soon as I saw the headline I thought “brilliant”. If they know how to properly use him he can replace all the the gap drama hole that will be left by Mrs Obrien. He’s a superb actor, and if they throw him some real meaty things he’ll turn Downton upside down. My guess is he is going to be filling in on the business aspect that Matthew was initially covering, but his playboy ness could bring scandal to the Abbey along with Rose’s sure to be antics.

    • Faye says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to think this is a good thing! Giametti is odd, but he’s a really talented actor. I’ll never forget seeing him in The Illusionist versus his DVD interview for the character – you would never guess it’s the same person. He is really, really talented. I think he’ll shake Downton up.

  5. Talie says:

    Whatever, I love this show.

  6. lucy2 says:

    He’s a pretty great actor. Downton is fun, but…a soap, basically. What’s he doing on that show?
    At least they’re bringing Shirley back – such a big deal was made of her coming on the show, and then it was so brief.

  7. fabgrrl says:

    Hm. That is all.

  8. Erinn says:

    I loved him in Cinderella Man, and really anything else I’ve seen him in. He’s a talented man, though I do not watch Downton.

  9. Lisa says:

    Is DA good? It looks so meh, but everyone I know loves it…

  10. Mia 4S says:

    Now this is why sometimes I think character actor is the way to go. You can mix it up between TV and movies, an award nomination or win here and there, rarely stalked by paparazzi unless you are working. Plus, the successful ones make damn good money. It’s very smart.

  11. Sabrine says:

    Oh good. I like his acting very much. That will lift the mood of Downton Abbey after the death of Sybil.

    Yes DA is good. The father is getting on my nerves lately but hopefully, that will change.

  12. Cool Phosphorescent Shimmer says:

    I loved him as Pig Vomit in Howard Stern’s Private Parts. Seriously, he was awesomely slimy. He was also really great in the one with wine and the guy from Wings (how’s that for a memorable movie??).

  13. Finn says:

    Great idea. Brilliant–and funny–actor.

  14. mslewis says:

    I keep watching it but, really, Downton hasn’t been good since the first season. They really need an influx of new blood. Giametti is a wonderful actor and I think he is a great choice to play Clara’s brother . . . the rich American with money to burn. The story line could be really good (cross fingers). The Black character could also be interesting since many Black American musicians did go to Europe (mostly Paris) back in the 20s because of the racism in the States in order to further their careers. It depends on the writing how all this is handled.

  15. Ella says:

    Downton is awful nowadays but I have to say this sounds intriguing. I find it hard to imagine Giamatti in a trashy soap melodrama, but I might have to watch the new season just to see how this works out.

    I wish we saw Giamatti in more movies! He’s amazing every time.

  16. taxi says:

    That kills it for me. Despite his rep for being talented, I cannot stand to watch Giamatti.

  17. StormsMama says:

    Just saw him as Hamlet in new haven at Yale in April. He’s a genius. I move him. Sigh.
    Now I have to actually give in and watch that damn show.

  18. Sugarrbunny says:

    Adore him, watch ‘Cinderella Man’ & try not to fall in love with him!!

  19. Amy says:

    I did a huge double take when I first learned this and went WHAT?! I always think of Paul Giamatti as Miles from that wine movie Sideways… a movie I don’t like by the way, even if Giamatti is really great in it. He is a talented actor but I feel Downton Abbey is a little… beneath him? I enjoy DA for what it is–historical soap opera with beautiful clothes and subpar acting. And I just cannot imagine him as Cora’s brother or a playboy in 1920′s England…

    This is the same way I felt when James Franco decided to do a role on General Hospital… So out of left field!