Below is an excerpt from a story that originally appeared in InStyle’s September issue, on newsstands and available for digital download now.
One does not expect to see Downton Abbey’s aristocratic Matthew Reginald Crawley in jeans. Perhaps this explains why no one at the Mercer Hotel in New York’s SoHo recognizes Dan Stevens, the actor who played the pedigreed lawyer on the hit TV series until his demise in Season 3. Today Stevens looks downright scruffy, clad in dark Levi’s, a John Varvatos T-shirt revealing artful tattoos on the insides of his arms, futuristic Jimmy Choo high-top sneakers (he calls them his Tron shoes), and a waxy Belstaff jacket. That’s not to say he doesn’t turn heads. He does. But that’s probably thanks to the sharp angles of his bearded face and his light blue, Siberian husky-colored eyes. “I’m surprised when people do recognize me with the long hair and a beard,” he says with an accent as elegantly polished as the posh character he once portrayed. “New York is a place where no one cares. It’s kind of nice.”
So what does an actor do after being offed from one of television’s most beloved shows? First, Stevens relocated from London to Brooklyn with his wife, Susie, a former jazz singer, and their two children, Willow, 4, and Aubrey, 2. The actor also has four major films in the works: this month’s action thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones, co-starring Liam Neeson, the white-knuckle impostor flick The Guest, and coming out at the end of the year, the third installment of Night at the Museum, followed by the Adam Sandler comedy-drama The Cobbler. One of his most exciting recent projects, however, is Rachel, a tender short he did for the popular web series High Maintenance. Its title holds a clue to the plotline: Stevens stars as a stay-at-home dad who likes to smoke pot and wear his wife’s covetable Rachel Comey wardrobe. It’s worth Googling and watching right this very minute. Well, after you’ve read the following interview:
Can we talk about how annoying it is that you look so good wearing women’s clothing?
The other night at a party a woman was wearing the exact same Rachel Comey dress I wear in the short, the one with poodles on it (below). She came up to me and said, “God, it’s unfair! You looked better in it.” I must say there were a couple of pieces that were surprisingly comfortable. I’d certainly never worn palazzo pants before.
You even master heels and play a Wii game in them, no less.
It’s actually easier to play in high heels because they tip your weight onto your toes.
When you’re dressing up for a night out—in men’s clothes, I’m assuming—are there designer lines you prefer?
I like British labels Casely-Hayford and Spencer Hart, which both have a cool vibe and fit me well. Every time I go back to London I go to Tricker’s, a tiny store on Jermyn Street, near Piccadilly Circus, that’s been there forever, for its brogues and proper old-school London accessories. Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith on Downton, is very interested in fashion, and she educated me while we hung out on set. Otherwise, I just trust my wife.
Does your wife shop for you?
Actually, I shop for her. I like shopping for her. I’ll walk around New York and see stuff in the windows that catches my eye. I’ll grab it if it’s not prohibitively expensive. It depends on what street I’m walking on—sometimes I’ll go, ‘Well, maybe next year!’
What’s something you think a woman always looks sexy in?
How does one answer that?
Right. OK. I think something a bit sheer is always sexy—just a hint, though, not something that shows off the whole thing.
Your fans want to know: Will we ever see you in a costume drama again?
The success of Downton was unprecedented for most of us on the show. You can’t ask for more than that as an actor. But afterward, I actively wanted to do different stuff. Which isn’t to say I won’t do another costume drama again. I loved it.
For more handsome photos of Dan Stevens and to read his full interview, pick up the September issue of InStyle, on newsstands and available for digital download now.