STAGE TO SCREENS: Dan Stevens, From "Downton Abbey" Heir to Broadway's The Heiress

By Brandon Voss
11 Nov 2012

Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens

British heartthrob Dan Stevens doesn't mind if you attend The Heiress expecting to see his sweet "Downton Abbey" character Matthew Crawley — just as long as you leave debating the intentions of roguish American fortune-hunter Morris Townsend.


Dan Stevens is a sucker for a good period drama. American audiences know the British actor best as Matthew Crawley, earnest heir presumptive to his fancy family's estate in the 1920s-set series "Downton Abbey," which returns January for a third season on PBS. (It has already been seen in the U.K.) The stage regular has now hopped across the pond — in person and character — to star in the Broadway revival of The Heiress, Ruth and Augustus Goetz's 1947 stage adaptation of Henry James's 1880 novel "Washington Square," which runs through Feb. 10, 2013, at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Stevens, 30, plays Morris Townsend, a man of questionable motives in courting a shy heiress. He recently spoke to about sharing his Broadway debut with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain, experimenting with Tony-nominated director Moisés Kaufman, and craving the spotlight since before he can remember.

How have you been enjoying New York City?
Dan Stevens: It's fantastic. It's one of my favorite cities, and I've always wanted to spend more time here. It's very exciting to have my family here as well.

Your second child was just born in August, so it probably wasn't the most ideal time to uproot your family and come to New York. Did you have any hesitations about doing The Heiress?
DS: Well, it's such an amazing opportunity, and I'm lucky to have a wonderful wife who was as excited about the opportunity as I was and happy to take on all the challenges that came with it.

Are you treating the gig as an extended family vacation?
DS: We've definitely been doing a lot of fun things that I wouldn't necessarily have done if I were here alone. But I also have to rest up and look after myself while doing this play, and with small kids, that's never easy.

Have you been able to see other theatre around town during rehearsals or on nights when The Heiress is dark?
DS: Not too much, no. I was very lucky to be able to see Jake Gyllenhaal in If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, which was directed by a friend of mine, Michael Longhurst. It was a fantastic production. I hope to see more shows on our off nights. I'm desperate to see The Book of Mormon, and I've heard good things about Grace.


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