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Dan Stevens: 'I'm still apologising for my Downton Abbey exit!'

Dan Stevens has to remind himself that the anger over his character's shocking exit from Downton Abbey is down to the fact he was so popular with viewers.

Dan Stevens is "still apologising" to fans for his shocking Downton Abbey exit.

The 34-year-old actor starred as Matthew Crawley in the hit period drama from its beginning in 2010 up to the 2012 Christmas special, when his character was killed off in a car crash.

The distressing scenes came as a surprise to all, and many viewers claimed the show had ruined their festive period.

While Dan has since moved on from the programme, and made a name for himself in Hollywood with roles in films such as The Guest and crime thriller Walk Among the Tombstones, Downton fans still hold a grudge over the way he left the show.

"I'm still apologising to people now," he told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper. "The way Matthew went was out of my hands - but it was rather shocking. There were some very upset people and I've had to apologise to a lot of ­people over the past four years."

However, he does his best to remember that the anger over his exit is testament to how popular his alter ego was.

"But I take it as a compliment that Matthew was so loved on the show," Dan continued. "I've done a lot since then though - so hopefully people are seeing what I have been up to and are beginning to understand why I wanted to move on."

His next role sees him starring alongside Emma Watson in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. He is almost unrecognisable in the part, and said recently that his transformation is all down to computer generated imagery (CGI).

"It was all done by CGI," he said during an appearance on U.S. chat show Today. "It was motion capture, puppeteering, the suit... and then the face was done separately using a different technology.

"So when I was on set, I was on stilts in a big muscle suit covered in Lycra. Everything else looked gorgeous, Emma Watson was beautiful, the sets were incredible... and there's me just sweating away!"

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