‘Downton Abbey’ creator discusses being ‘typecast’ as a period drama writer

Julian Fellowes has revealed how he feels about being known primarily for writing only period dramas.

Taking part in a webchat with The Guardian, the creator of Downton Abbey was asked: “Are you planning to write anything in a contemporary setting, outside of your direct experience? I believe there is too much reverence for costume drama on the big terrestrial channels, which is an easy sell to the US market and its fetish for the lives of the British upper classes.”

Fellowes responded: “I’ve become a go-to guy for period drama. In this business, you normally get your lucky break because you become known as being reliable for a certain type of part or story. It doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you can do.

“My own favourite, among my work, is a film starring Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson called Separate Lies. It’s not about class at all, or any of the themes I’m famous for.”

Here is the trailer for Separate Lies:

Fellowes added: “I really enjoyed [writing stage musical] School of Rock which shook up the pattern a bit. Show business is the business of supply – if there’s an audience for a product you know how to provide, then it’s foolish to stay away.

“I’m about to make a period drama in New York, The Chaperone, set in the 20s. I’m lucky to be known for a certain type of work. Actors shouldn’t be afraid of typecasting – eventually you will get the opportunity to vary your output. At the beginning, just give thanks to the fact that you’re working.”

It was officially announced last month that the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie will finally start filming next year.