'Downton Abbey' casting news: Paul Giamatti will portray an American relative

'Downton Abbey' is getting another guest star – actor Paul Giamatti will appear on the show as countess Cora's American brother. The show's fourth season is in production now.

Keith Bedford/Reuters
'Downton Abbey' will feature a guest turn by actor Paul Giamatti.

Another American is coming to “Downton Abbey.”

The Ides of March” actor Paul Giamatti will be appearing in the smash-hit British drama as Harold Levinson, brother of American countess Cora. The brother character has been discussed during the series by Cora and their mother (Shirley Maclaine), but so far had remained offscreen.

Harold is “free-spirited,” Carnival Films managing director and “Downton” executive producer Gareth Neame said in a statement, and that during the finale of the upcoming season, he and Maclaine will “upset the Granthams’ apple cart.”

“We can't wait to see him work alongside Shirley Maclaine,” Neame said.

“Downton” will be premiering its fourth season in the UK this fall and is scheduled to come to America’s PBS stations in January of 2014.

The show centers on the lives of a British aristocratic family, the Crawleys, and the drama occurring between the family’s servants. So far, the family has weathered World War I and the social upheaval of the 1920s.

And (spoiler alert for season three) “Downton” shocked fans with its most recent season finale, which aired on Christmas Day in the UK, when the episode included the demise of the romantic lead, Matthew Crawley, who was married to the Crawley family’s oldest daughter.

Giamatti starred to critical acclaim in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” as the title character, a role for which he received an Emmy Award. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man” and was one of the two male leads in the well-received 2004 film “Sideways.” 

He will portray Friar Laurence in the upcoming adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” and will play the Spider-Man villain the Rhino in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” He will also appear as part of the star-studded cast of the film “Saving Mr. Banks,” in which Emma Thompson will play “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks will portray Walt Disney.

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