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On becoming Mr Carson. Actor’s passion immortalised in Downton Abbey.



On becoming Mr Carson. Actor’s passion immortalised in Downton Abbey.

24 March 2022

Life is not static, but fluid. A series of opportune accidents, alongside a true commitment to the art, led Jim Carter OBE to become the actor he is today. In an animated John Locke Lecture, the actor gave pupils and staff an insight into his journey from working for £5 a week in fringe theatre to Downton Abbey.

Best known for his role as Mr Carson in the ITV period drama series Downton Abbey, Jim captivated attendees with his charisma. He shared with audience members his experience of first being on stage, and the powerful rush he felt in that moment of improvised performance: it was the pursuit of that feeling that propelled him into an acting career. He spoke whimsically too of his decision to leave university and to instead commit himself to the world of acting, and how his brief stint in repertory theatre taught him the tough lesson that often a person might learn most from the things they are bad at (and they’ll remember them the most too!). He also regaled his audience with his tales of circus arts, which he took up in a bid to remain loyal to the performing arts world.

Speaking about being approached to perform the role of Mr Carson, he confessed to being initially reticent, as he never thought of being tied to a TV series. Eventually, however, he accepted and Downton Abbey fans are more grateful than ever to him for doing so. Jim has since become immensely attached to Mr Carson, explaining that the scenes shot downstairs are far more riveting for him than those set upstairs. Though, he went on to say that his true love lies in film, due to the precision required of an actor and the challenge that brings.

In true performer fashion, Jim finished his talk by showing off his card tricks to his audience’s delight. The talk ended with a Q&A in which Jim shared his wisdom and advice with those pupils whose love of Drama has them dreaming about a future career in acting.

Aspiring actor, Felix (Sixth Form, RR) said “I was greatly inspired by Jim Carter’s talk. I found it funny and engaging, detailing an eventful life full of perseverance and passion. Before, I had been worrying a lot about the fruitfulness of pursuing an acting career, but hearing how he lived, from job to job and working on the street before he made it big, made me realise that I didn’t need success to be happy doing what I loved.”

On becoming Mr Carson. Actor’s passion immortalised in Downton Abbey.

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