On Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classic Lady Rose (Lily James) brought jazz singer musician Jack Ross (Gary Carr) and his band to the party honoring Lord Gratham’s (Hugh Bonneville) on his birthday as a surprise for him!
‘Downton’ Creator Julian Fellowes thus introduced a black character on to the canvas, and in the shock for the times of the 1920′s England, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) finds Rose making out with Jack at the end of the episode! And once again amidst the backdrop of the upstairs/downstairs drama of Downton Abbey social issues are brought to the forefront.
In a new interview with Huff Post Canada, ‘Downton’s’ Julian Fellowes discusses how he sees the Jack Ross character on the canvas, why the label “soap operas” have a stigma in the US, while not so much in Europe, and if there will be a sixth season of the hit series (the fifth season has already been announced) Here are a few excerpts below!
Fellowes on the buzz at bringing on the character of Jack Ross (Gary Carr), a jazz singer emulated after 20′s cabaret performer Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson: “I can assure he’s not a token. Far from it, in fact. Gary Carr is a very interesting character. He’s very attractive young man, who is also a good actor. His story, in a sense, because I don’t want to give anything away for story’s sake, is that he’s not a loser; he’s a winner. That’s important to represent in art. So much of today’s black narratives are about slavery and oppression. I always say to young writers, “We must empower people; and not think of people as victims all the time. We need black heroes. We need black characters being high achievers doing well in fiction — because we’ve got them in real life doing absolutely fine!” There’s this tendency in fiction to make black stories sad. I’m not saying they should never be sad. I’m saying we should get the balance better. Every canvas needs black characters, but where their blackness is not part of the story. Make them teachers or cops; people just living their lives. That’s my big message this season.”
Fellowes on why in America the soap genre has a stigma while not so in Europe: ”Yes, the term ‘soap opera’ is used pejoratively in America. I mean, all continuing dramas are soap operas. Dickens created the form, for sure. I can only speculate that your daytime dramas]aren’t based in much reality, whereas ours are in England. When our characters die, they die. And life goes on … I’ve avoided those distractions because the human mind and heart are complex and entertaining enough to explore.”
Fellowes on if there will be a sixth season of Downton Abbey, or not: “I”m not sure. Unlike America, in England we have to wait until the season finishes airs before we receive a pick-up; we’re not renewed multiple years in advance. We never want to jinx anything. (Laughs) That’s good because it keeps everyone at the top of their game. If there is a sixth season, it may be our last. I’m about to start on a new U.S. drama called “The Gilded Age” for NBC Universal. And the last thing I want is to juggle two shows.”
So what did you think about the introduction of Gary Carr as Jack Ross on Sunday’s Downton Abbey? Do you like Julian Fellowes statements on his plans for the character on the canvas? And his thoughts on the soap genre? Do you think ‘Downton’ should go a sixth season? Weigh-in below!