The time has finally come, the film of “Downton Abbey” will close the circle of the most successful British TV series. We are all looking forward to going back to Downton and see all the characters from where we left them off, and one of the most anticipated storylines is the one of footman Andy and his relationship with Daisy and Thomas.
So, we’ve had a chat with Michael Fox the actor behind Andy, and he gave us some hints regarding the path that Andy will take and why we still need shows and films like “Downton Abbey.”
Want to know more about Michael? Keep reading and discover about his passion for music, the musician he would like to portray and one of the best epic-fails ever that he can’t but recall with a smile.
Were you a fan of the series before you joined the cast?
Yeah. I’ve always loved period dramas, like “Gosford Park” obviously by Julian Fellowes and many others like that, so I’ve always thought it would have been nice to act in something like “Downton,” but I didn’t think, when I was in drama school, that I could actually get a part. And, like a year earlier of getting cast, my agent rang me about one-line part in the show and said “I don’t think you should do it,” but I said “No, no, I really want to be in ‘Downton,’ just let me do the one line” which was like “Your carriage has arrived” or something. I said “Just let me do it” and she said, “No, no, because you could get a bigger part down the line and you want to have that chance.” She was right. So that was awesome. I was a fan of that, my whole family too, that’s the thing about it, it’s so nice that you can gather the family and watch it. It was pretty surreal to be in it.
What character would you have liked to play if you hadn’t been cast as “footman Andy”?
Thomas. Just because he’s so interesting, brilliant and, horrendous, you know, evil, but in a lot of pain… I just think his story is so fascinating, brilliant. And then, Upstairs, I’d say Branson; his transition to Upstairs was really cool. So, from an acting point of view, I wanted to give that story a go.
“I was a fan of that, my whole family too, that’s the thing about it, it’s so nice that you can gather the family and watch it. It was pretty surreal to be in it.”
Can you give us some hints about your character Andy, about his relationship with Daisy?
His relationship with Daisy has moved on, and they’re kind of trying to redefine their place in the house, whether they want to be in the house. There are lots of similarities with where we left them in the series, also because I think that at that time the house was changing so much and people were slightly scared about where they were going to fit into, about the class structure, about their role being redone, etcetera. Their relationship has moved on and feathered down the line, it’s not perfect, there are trials and tribulations with their relationship, as always, but I’m really happy with the stuff we got to do together, so I’m excited that we got a significant story in the film, and there are 25 characters to do a story about; for Andy and Daisy’s relationship, to feel a part of that and I feel really lucky that it’s come out well.
“Their relationship has moved on and feathered down the line, it’s not perfect, there are trials and tribulations with their relationship, as always, but I’m really happy with the stuff we got to do together.”
Andrew’s official hiring at Graham House as a footman stimulates his professional and inner growth: he not only makes real progress in his job, but he also learns to read and write, and mostly thanks to Thomas’ help, with whom he builds up a relationship with over season 5 and 6. Can you relate in any way to Andy’s growth path? Is there someone in your life that helped you get through hard times if you’ve had any?
Definitely. From an acting point of view, I tried out for drama school for three years and I went to Bristol, to do drama, and there was one teacher there, called Craig Snelling, who made me completely change my approach to acting and how much I respected it; I respected it more as a craft and I learnt to take it seriously. He was significant because I was always like “Oh, I don’t even know if I can do this” and I couldn’t even get into drama school, let alone attempt at one of the most competitive industries you can get into and he just gave me so much confidence. Actually, when I do loads of acting jobs now, I still think about him and what he was teaching me about acting, so from that point of view he played a definitely significant part.
You were talking about period films. Is there a particular period of time you would want to act in?
I’ve done a little bit of stuff in the Sixties, with music, in an episode of “Endeavour.” I’d love to do something about a Sixties’ rock and roll band, or do something about the Rolling Stones, a music biopic around the Sixties or Seventies era would be incredible.
We know you’re also a musician. Is there a music artist you would like to portray in a biopic?
Bob Dylan. There is an Elvis biopic coming up but I could never play Elvis, because I just don’t have his face, his face was perfect, but do I think I could play Bob Dylan, I’d like to do that, and he’s also the reason why I started to play music, so…
“I think I could play Bob Dylan, I’d like to do that, and he’s also the reason why I started to play music, so…”
If you could describe the “Downton Abbey” film with a song title, what would it be?
Oh, I don’t know (laughs). It would probably be a Beatles’ song… “Love, love, love…” (sings) What’s the name of that song… “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done…,” (keeps on singing) “All You Need is Love.” Yeah, maybe that, because I think what’s interesting about this film is that it comes at a time when, speaking in terms of the UK, we just need a bit of joy, we need a bit of positivity. It’s about people’s endeavours, positivity and love and I hope that that’ll be its biggest positive landing force to the audience. It’s joyous, and beautiful, and not depressing, it’s an escape.
“It’s about people’s endeavours, positivity and love and I hope that that’ll be its biggest positive landing force to the audience.”
Going back to period films or TV shows, in what way can period films or shows relate to our modern society, is there something we can learn, even if they’re not based on real stories?
Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting thing about the class structure, the grade thing doesn’t exist anymore, anyone can do anything, but I think there’s something to be said, sometimes, about being part of a bigger whole, union, of some sort, something that’s slightly bigger that the individual; it’s actually quite a healthy thing, sometimes, it’s good for us to think that we’re not the most important thing, that there’s something greater to be working for together, and I believe “Downton” represents that in a way, it doesn’t represent all houses in that sense, because obviously not all of them are great, and I think getting rid of that structure is better, but they had a responsibility, you were working with something greater than you, and it helped a lot of people, the house had a lot of responsibility to help lots of people to get into a community, to get jobs, and keep people’s livelihoods going, so I think something greater than you that you’re working together for is what the house represents, community, and we’re breaking down everything.
“I think something greater than you that you’re working together for is what the house represents, community, and we’re breaking down everything.”
A movie you would like to see for the first time again?
Your guilty pleasure film?
“Alan Partridge” or “David Brent: Life On the Road,” it’s actually a very good film, I’ve seen it so many times (laughs).
An epic fail on the job?
I put a cloak on Maggie Smith and it got hooked onto her dress, so as I pulled the cloak off of Maggie, she came down with the cloak too (laughs). It doesn’t get much more of an epic fail than that… In fact, I have also pulled a chair away when she was going to sit down, so there’s two. I’m the worst footman ever, with acting legends in particular…
And what did she say?
She was very gracious about it, she could have made me feel a lot worse. She was fine about it, but she will not let me forget it.
“I put a cloak on Maggie Smith and it got hooked onto her dress, so as I pulled the cloak off of Maggie, she came down with the cloak too (laughs).”
One last question: what’s next for you, what’s next for Michael?
I’m finishing off an EP that I’ve recorded in Abbey Road, so that’s coming. I’m starting the press for the film, I really hope to do more theatre, I’d love to do more of that. Let’s bring on next year and see what happens!