PBS Masterpiece has been hosting a series of chats with various “Downton Abbey” cast members in recent weeks. You can read the highlights from Hugh Bonneville’s chat here and the highlights from the chat with Laura Carmichael here. But Monday, Feb. 13 the chat was with Allen Leech, who plays Branson.
Leech is clearly very tech-savvy (his Twitter is always abuzz), so his chat was able to cram in a lot of questions during the hour timeframe. As such, we’ve included most of them here in Q&A format.
Did you have any idea of how your character Branson would develop when you you joined the show
“Not at all! i wasn’t even option for any of the following series so it was a great surprise to be back for season 2.”
Did you get any background about Branson’s life? Where he grew up? Religion? How he came to become political?
“Julian Fellows and myself created some of the back story and i did a lot of research of the time in which it is set. and Branson is Catholic BTW!”
Will you miss the chauffeur uniform? I am sure viewers are sad they never got to see you in the driving goggles!
“Dressing up as a leprechaun, will now have to be done in my spare time!! Actually yes i will miss it!! I looked like toad of toad hall in those goggles.”
Such fantastic cars you get to drive on the series. Can you tell us any mishaps of fun stories about shooting with the cars?
“I left half the gear box on the road in the first series and Maggie never let me reverse the car whilst she was still in it! But she told me that i was a much better driver in the second series.”
What is your relationship like with Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil) on the set?
“We laugh a lot, sometimes too much and we get in trouble. she corpses very easily (thats laughing during a take)”
Are you happy that Branson finally gets to kiss Sybil?
“YES!!! It took long enough. In the story Branson has to be the most patient man IN THE WORLD! No wonder he spent so long polishing the Car Horn…… ahem”
What member of the cast have you not gotten the chance to work with but would like the opportunity to?
“Proper scenes with the notorious M. A. G. and Elizabeth McGovern … (The Notorious M. A. G. [is a] new name I’m trying out for Maggie Smith)”
You seem to have such fun with Rob James-Collier off-screen – have you been friends for a long time?
“Myself and RJC are friends from when I joined the cast in the first series. We are never allowed to sit together at read throughs because apparently its not possible for us to stay quiet! Brilliant guy.”
Do you feel like the American fandom is different than the British fandom? How so?
“Not really I think if people like the show they really like it! American fans are more forward about coming up to you and saying hi, in London they tend to just stare at you on the tube and in my case then do an impression of someone driving.”
Are you the prankster on set or are you the one being pranked? If you have pulled any, what was the best prank you pulled and who was it on?
“I tend to do the pranks! I sewed the bottom of Tomas Howes’ (William) trousers shut so he couldn’t get his feet through them. That was funny as he fell over”
Are their similarities between you and Branson?
“I’m Irish and I tend to go after women that are way out of my league, so yes!”
What is your favorite memory with the cast when you’re not shooting?
“When Tomas Howes left we all jumped in to the last take he did and presented him with a directors chair that we all signed. he then launched into a speech as if it was an oscar. That was really funny.”
If you weren’t Branson, which character would you like to be?
“Carson he is the best I love him in the show a grumpy man with a heart of gold”
Can you tell us if you have started filming season 3
“I start tomorrow, ah so excited.”
Are you billed as a main character in series 3? Because you deserve it!
“Yes I am”
Will you and Sybil live the life of commoners or aspire to have servants and join the upper crust?
“Branson doesn’t believe that anyone should be serving anyone else so the life of commoners I would imagine!”
On your twitter you compare the 3rd season to the Cliffs of Moher (been there several times) it can be a dangerous place – should we read anything into that?
“Yes you should muahahahaha”
[Ed’s note: The tweet in question is: “On my Irish trousers… The 3rd series rocks more than the Cliffs of Moher!! (Irish national treasure!)”]
What do you think Branson would chose if he had to? Love or political activism?
“Good question! It has to be love, always! As the Beatles said ‘Love is all you need'”
Keep watching the PBS site for future chats. The finale of “Downton Abbey” Season 2 airs Sunday, Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS.