Dominic West says it was “very daunting” joining the cast of Downton Abbey and that his first experiences on the set were surreal.
The actor is set to star in the upcoming film Downton Abbey: A New Era, alongside series stalwarts Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery.
West described his entrance into the Downton family during a new weekly re-watch podcast, Downton Abbey: The Official Podcast.
The podcast, hosted by Jacqueline Coley and Anita Rani, features exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access to the cast production teams.
Speaking on the podcast, West said: “It’s very daunting coming onto a show that’s been going for so long that is such a big phenomenon and such a big success.
“I’d never been to Highclere (castle) before…you go up the drive and you come over the brow of the hill and there it is.
“It’s like some Disney castle and you can’t quite believe that it’s real.
“It’s such an extraordinary outline against, against the horizon and…so that was the first sort of intake of breath.”
I'd never been to Highclere (castle) before…you go up the drive and you come over the brow of the hill and there it is. It's like some Disney castle and you can't quite believe that it's real.Dominic West
On meeting his castmates, he added: “I had a whole day or two, even with Maggie Smith. I was sitting next to her at that famous dining table.
“I’m chatting away to her…she’s the funniest woman alive and also the sort of cattiest.
“It was funny sitting there talking to her, it was brilliant and… all the casts sat down and you could see they’d been doing this for however long.”
West said that eating scenes in the series were “difficult” to film due to the heat and need to shoot individual characters, but added that he had been “like a kid in a candy shop” throughout the process.
Downton Abbey: A New Era is the highly anticipated cinematic return of the global period drama phenomenon which follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.
The film, written by Julian Fellowes, takes the familiar faces to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’s newly inherited villa as they try to escape a film crew at Downton.
It is due to hit UK cinemas from 29 April 2022.
Downton Abbey: The Official Podcast will be available on all major podcast networks from March 15.