Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley on Masterpiece Theatre’s hit period drama series Downton Abbey, has at long last apologized for his character’s untimely death.

“I am sorry about that!” Stevens told Radio Times magazine. “I think what emerged is that it’s an unwritten rule that you’re not supposed to die on British television on Christmas Day, and that, specifically, was not my doing. … I didn’t have any say in the manner in which he went. Ultimately, it was in the hands of Julian [Fellowes] and the producers.”

What Stevens did have a say in, was leaving the show. The British actor opted to forgo returning to Downton Abbey following the third season to pursue other opportunities, forcing Fellowes to write him out. The show made Stevens a household name and afforded him a number of opportunities across the pond. He’s already starred on Broadway in The Heiress alongside Jessica Chastain and has a number of films lined up.

Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey with Michelle Dockery

In April, Fellowes stated that Stevens was adamant about leaving Downton Abbey. “I had no choice,” Fellowes said, according to the UK Express. “Dan would not stay – he was determined to go. Everyone liked him and thought he was fantastic.

“I tried to persuade him to come back just for one episode of the next series so we could give Matthew and Mary a happy ending but he wanted to go off to America," he continued. "And now I believe he has a three-movie deal. He’s doing very well!”

Steven’s will soon be seen on the big screen in Summer in February with Dominic Cooper and Emily Browning, followed by A Walk Among the Tombstones with Liam Neeson and The Fifth Estate about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

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