Five seasons and two movies later, the Downton Abbey universe is as alive as ever.
"I feel so proud because I think the hardest thing to do is to keep an idea like this going and make it fresh and still preserve all the things that people like about it," said Elizabeth McGovern, who returns as Countess Cora Crawley. "And I never thought it would be possible to go as far as we've gone, but I do feel that this movie, it's sort of brought the whole thing back to life. It's really fresh again, it's funny. It has a sort of feeling of being really alive."
Downton Abbey's success is something Joanne Froggatt attributes to how much fun the cast has on set, telling E! News that her time playing Anna Smith has been an "absolute dream."
"We've had three goodbyes, and I'm like, ‘Is this the last goodbye? Will there be another goodbye?'" Smith joked. "I think I speak on behalf of all of us that we'd all love to come back and do another."
And while the film is full of many familiar faces—including Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess Violet Crawley and Imelda Staunton's Dowager Baroness Maud Bagshaw—the movie features the introduction of several new characters, including producer and director Jack Barber, played by Hugh Dancy, who arrives to film a movie at the titular English estate.
"I enjoyed it a lot," the actor said about joining the franchise. "I didn't know what to expect because you never know how it's gonna be like jumping in and joining something that's so established, but they were delightful."
It wouldn't be a Downton Abbey movie without amazing costumes, which Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Talbot) said were much more comfortable this time around thanks to the lack of corsets. But according to Laura Carmichael, another clothing item was just as painful to wear.
"Now it's probably the shoes," she told E! News. "There's nothing practical, really, about the clothes that these ladies wear."
The actress really enjoyed her character Edith Pelham's looks in the film, especially the one she wore during scenes set in the South of France.
"I had some kimono dresses and wide pants. I love the bathing suits. I thought they pulled them off and looked great. With vintage pieces, the costume department had to work very hard to keep everything fresh."
However, not everything was a "fresh" as the character's wardrobes. "We were filming outside—these sort of lunchtime scenes that look very casual and relaxed," actor Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) told E! News, "But actually, we're all trying to hold our noses between takes because, yeah, things go off [rot] in the heat, as we know."
Check out the full interview in the clip above.
Downton Abbey: A New Era premieres only in theaters May 20.