Downton Abbey actors on what’s next after end of hit TV show

The end of Downton Abbey after six seasons means new career options for its stars, with both the upstairs and downstairs crew embracing change-of-pace roles.

What's happening to certain Downton Abbey stars now that the hit period drama has ended is downright criminal.

Joanne Froggatt, who played Anna Bates in the British drama, plays a 19th-century serial killer in PBS's Dark Angel. Michelle Dockery, Downton's elegant Lady Mary, is now a sleazy American ex-convict in TNT's Good Behavior. And Kevin Doyle, kind-hearted Mr Molesley, is a nasty police detective in Netflix's Happy Valley.

The end of Downton Abbey ­after six seasons means new career options for its stars, with both the upstairs and downstairs crew embracing change-of-pace roles – although devoted fans might 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 adds that cast members "can't put a pin in their careers 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,” he says.

Froggatt agrees that change is part of the allure of acting.

“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 first three seasons. His projects since then have included the films Beauty and the Beast and Colossal, and the upcoming Marvel ­Comics X-Men TV spin-off, Legion.

What’s next for the cast?

After the ­finale, here’s where to find Downton’s former masters and servants:

Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham)

Possibly the actor staying closest to his Downton pedigree, he is playing Lord Louis Mountbatten in the Indian independence film Viceroy's House.

Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith)

Taking on a sibling role again in the 1940s historical romance, A United Kingdom, introducing her sister to her future husband, an African prince.

Brendan Coyle (John Bates)

Next up is the role of English politician Augustine Birrell in historical Irish film drama The Rising. Also the romantic film Me ­Before You, based on the novel by Jojo Moyes.

Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora)

The American actor is writing and recording her fourth album with the band, Sadie and the Hotheads. In April, she starts rehearsals at the National Theatre in London for Sunset at the Villa Thalia.

Lily James (Lady Rose)

Recently seen in mash-up movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the BBC TV mini-series adaptation of War and Peace. Next up is The Kaiser's Last Kiss, about a German soldier who falls in love with a Jewish woman.

Allen Leech (Tom Branson)

In the film Hunter's Prayer, based on Kevin Wignall's novel For the Dogs, Leech plays the former boss of a hired assassin whose assignment goes awry.

Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley)

As lonely wife Pauline in the upcoming British TV series Brief Encounters, set in the 1980s, veteran actor Wilton is one of four women whose lives are changed when they start selling exotic lingerie at house parties.

* Associated Press