Jim Carter’s portrayal of Charles Carson in the hugely successful and popular British historical drama DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-2015) is one of his most recognisable roles in a long and distinguished screen and stage career that began when he dropped out of his law studies at the University of Sussex fifty plus years ago to join a Brighton fringe theatre group for five quid a week, plus free board and lodgings.
His big stage break came with the National Theatre’s 1982 revival of GUYS AND DOLLS directed by Richard Eyre. At the same time he met his wife-to-be, Imelda Staunton, who was also in the show and they later appeared together in THE WIZARD OF OZ for the Royal Shakespeare Company – Imelda as Dorothy and Jim as the cowardly lion.
His film credits include THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE (1994), RICHARD III (1995), BRASSED OFF (1996) and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998), which won the Outstanding Performance by a Cast Screen Actors Guild Award and the Oscar for Best Picture. On the small screen, Jim has appeared in so many, THE BILL, MIDSOMER MURDERS, ZORRO, CASUALTY, CRANFORD and THE SINGING DETECTIVE to name a few. Created and co-written by Julian Fellowes, DOWNTON ABBEY is based on the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey during the early part of the 20th Century.
Jim played a leading role as Mr Carson, the butler who is In charge of the male staff, the pantry, wine cellar and the dining room. Mr Carson is described as having a ‘fatherly disposition over the other servants’ while making sure that their duties are carried out to his exacting standards. For his portrayal Jim has received four Primetime Emmy nominations and has twice won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble. He also reprised the role for the 2019 film version. Jim received the OBE for services to drama last year.
He signed my sketch last month at the Kiln Theatre in North London, where he was hosting a fundraising event with the screening of the 2014 film PRIDE followed by a cast Q&A.