By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist December 27, 2012 at 10:46AM
The minor disadvantage to starring in one of the most popular TV shows around sits with the major career opportunities it brings, and whether to stay with the project that made your name or leave for more ambitious endeavors. Since taking in part in the mass ensemble that is PBS' wildly popular early 20th century drama “Downton Abbey,” star Dan Stevens has dealt directly with the question as of late, and it now seems he's picked the thrill of uncharted waters. *Major, major spoilers below*.
Deadline reports the acclaimed PBS show -- which will start filming its fourth season this winter -- shall resume without Stevens in its cast as heir apparent Matthew Crawley. For U.K. viewers who get the show months before we do, that fact was painfully obvious as Season Three ended recently with Crawley's death during its Christmas special. But for series creator/writer Julian Fellowes, he believes “[the Crawleys will] go on jogging quite happily through the 20s,” as he recently informed EW after Stevens' choice.
Besides the actor's current Broadway run in “The Heiress” alongside Jessica Chastain, the likely reason behind his departing decision comes from his role in the as-yet-untitled WikiLeaks film, which finds Bill Condon directing Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. Another project gathering quite an extraordinary cast, the film finds Stevens portraying a hacker compatriot to Assange's right-hand man, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (played by Daniel Brühl), and one can definitely see why the young actor chose to end his successful run at 'Downton.'
Regardless, PBS will air the third season of “Downton Abbey” in the U.S. on January 6th, while production on the WikiLeaks film begins next year.