brendan coyle downton abbey 'Downton Abbey': Bates begins Season 3 in prison, says Brendan CoyleBrendan Coyle is the latest participant in PBS’ “Downton Abbey” chat sessions (read about Hugh Bonneville here, Laura Carmichael here and Allen Leech here). We separately addressed our new favorite theory that Coyle might have let slip – that Sir Richard killed Vera Bates – but here are some other highlights from the chat with Mr. Bates.

What can we expect to see with this character … in Season 3?

“He begins series three in prison…I can’t say anymore…honestly.”

Any other Season 3 details?

“There is a wedding…or two?…Shirley MacLaine is amongst us….the scripts are superb…stick with us.”

Are you excited to be working with [Shirley MacLaine]?

“I had the privilege of sitting beside @maclaineshirley at lunch
yesterday…this casting is ingenious…she is much loved here,her
scenes are brilliant and I can assure you she will be a dazzling
addition to Downton Abbey.”

[Bates] may be a man of few words, but his countenance speaks volumes. Do you think that’s part of the reason the character is so appealing?

“I think it harks back to a time when people didn’t always ‘express themselves’..or talk about ‘how they feel’…his stoicism and restraint seems to have struck a chord.”

Bates has a very unique relationship with Lord Grantham – they seem more like friends in Series 2 – how much of that is the writing and how much of that is a decision that you and Hugh Bonneville made to play the relationship like that?

“Hugh and I made a decision that that these two men had experiences fighting alongside each in the Boer war that forged a relationship that transcended the class division…they’re very stiff upper lip about it and don’t dwell on it…the rest is in the writing and the chemistry that Hugh and I have as actors…it was instinctual and I think we just hit the ground running with their relationship.”

Who is the most different (in real life) from their character?

“I’ll plump for O’Brian being the most different if I have to choose one. Siobhan is the loveliest,warmest woman you could meet.”

If [Julian] Fellowes wouldn’t have written the part for you, which character would you have auditioned for or which part would you have liked to play?

“Good question….I think Sir Richard would be up my street…a brilliantly written part and a dream to do so much work opposite Michelle Dockery….But I’m not going there as Ian Glenn nailed it and was imperious in the role.”

How surprised were you with the direction your (Mr. Bates/Anna) storyline took?

“Quite surprised…the evolution of Downton Abbey is never dull .”

“Downton Abbey” will return to U.S. airwaves in January 2013. Watch this space at the official PBS site for more chats with “Downton” actors.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."