Paul Giamatti Will Be the Next Ugly American on 'Downton Abbey'

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If the Dowager Countess Downton Abbey had problems with Shirley Maclaine's Americanness, just what on Earth is she going to do with Paul Giamatti. Cinema's reigning whiner-in-chief is set for a guest stint on the show, playing Harold Levinson, the brother of Downton matriarch Cora, Michael Ausiello of TVLine reported

Executive producer Gareth Neame told Ausiello that Giamatti's character is "free-spirited" and will "upset the Grantham’s apple cart" in the show's finale. Exciting! Or is it?

There are a lot of changes set for the upcoming season of Downton, which we Americans will have to wait until January to see. Not only is the show down a couple of series regulars, but it will also have new faces like Jack Ross, a black jazz singer. So by the time Giamatti arrives with MacLaine, Downton should be a much different place.

Still, if there was one lesson of the third season, it's that the core characters remain the focus of the show. Despite the pre-season hype about what MacLaine would bring to the show, her character was mostly a background player. Sure she exchanged some great barbs with Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess, but in the end her storyline established only the somewhat obvious knowledge that Downton's inhabitants aren't comfortable with Americans. We hope, for Giamatti's sake, that the show has a bigger part for him to play. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.