Julian Fellowes has revealed how his Oscar win made him “a player.”
The Downton Abbey creator won the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 2002 for Gosford Park.
Taking part in a webchat with The Guardian, Fellowes recalled: “Winning an Oscar is different for different people. When a great star, already at the top of their profession, wins one then it’s a fitting tribute to their achievements and their contribution to the industry. But it doesn’t change their career.
“That wasn’t at all the case with me. I was a complete unknown – a mildly familiar actor in Britain. People would see my face and think we’d met at a house party in Norfolk. I became, briefly, the patron of the last chance saloon.”
He explained: “In Hollywood, they think if you’ve got the right stuff it would have manifested itself by the time you’re in your 30s. I was 51 or 52 – and a complete unknown. In the Writers’ Guild they have an Oscar party and I heard they gave out a great cheer when I won – they were saying, don’t dismiss writers of that age.
“So it changed everything. I woke up after a riotous night and there was the Oscar on my bedside table. and I thought, everything’s different. I did one more season on Monarch [of the Glen] and was almost immediately offered Mary Poppins to write for Cameron Mackintosh – then I had a bestseller with Snobs. Then I was offered a film to direct.
“The Oscar made me a player. I always feel it took an American outside the system to do that for me. That was Bob Altman. He was my lucky break. I wouldn’t have made it through in the British industry in the same way.”
The long-awaited Downton Abbey movie finally starts filming next year.