Some new stars are joining the original Downton cast for the film.

By Nick Romano
April 19, 2021
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DOWNTON ABBEY
Credit: Liam Daniel/Focus Features

The ladies and gents of Downton Abbey are officially returning to the big screen, and much sooner than you think.

Not only is a movie sequel to the 2019 film now officially in the works after some chatter going around, but work has already begun on the project with the intention of releasing the new work in theaters this Dec. 22 in time for the Christmas holiday.

Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) said earlier in February that he had seen a script for a sequel and everyone was eager to start working on it.

"If everybody who is offered a vaccine takes a vaccine, we can make a movie," Bonneville had said on British radio program The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. "We will make a movie. It's the usual thing, the planets are circling, they're beginning to get into alignment, but there's this thing called coronavirus knocking around. Until that is under control in a sensible way, we're not going to be able to get all those ducks in a row."

Apparently, those ducks are in a row. Downton Abbey 2 actually started production last week with a screenplay by series creator Julian Fellowes, who also wrote the last film. My Week With Marilyn director Simon Curtis is at the helm of the sequel. Michael Engler, who directed the first movie, is busy elsewhere working on The Gilded Age series with Christine Baranski.

In addition to original Downton stars like Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, and Jim Carter, the sequel welcomes new talent Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, and Dominic West in undisclosed roles. The plot of the new movie is also under wraps.

"After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that next Christmas we will be reunited with the much beloved characters of Downton Abbey," Gareth Neame, who's producing the film through Carnival Films, said in a statement.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski added, "There's no place like home for the holidays, and we can't imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, Gareth, and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawley's back home for their fans."

This story originally appeared on ew.com