‘Downton’ writer Julian Fellowes on how winning his Oscar ‘changed everything’

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.