Downton Abbey is adding several cast members for season 4, but there's one new face that's getting quite a bit more attention than the others. While new characters include a love interest for Lady Mary, a "young and handsome aristocrat," an opera singer, and a new valet, it's Jack Ross that's creating all the buzz. Played by London-born actor Gary Carr, Jack Ross will be a "charming and charismatic" jazz singer ... and he just so happens to be the first black character featured on the wildly popular British period drama.
Gary Carr is likely a welcome addition for those who have criticized Downton Abbey's lack of diversity, and his casting must have been the first step in writer Julian Fellowes' stated plan to “open the show up ethnically."
However, I have to say, the character description is a little ... odd.
Carr joins a slew of new cast members for the fourth season. The list includes Tom Cullen, who will play a new love interest for Lady Mary Crawley called Lord Anthony Gillingham; Julian Ovenden, a "young and handsome aristocrat"; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who takes on the role of an opera singer hired to perform at a party to help cheer up Lady Mary; Dame Harriet Walter, who's cast as an old school friend of the Dowager Countess called Lady Shackleton; Nigel Harmon, who's introduced as a charismatic new valet; and Joanna David, who will make a guest appearance as the Duchess of Yeovil.
Gary Carr's Jack Ross is described as a "fantastic, dynamic character" who will "bring interesting twists to the drama." That sounds great and all, but the casting notes reportedly sent out to actors’ agents earlier this month seemed ... I don't know, maybe a little shallow?
Black and very handsome. Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma. Overall he should be a very attractive man with a certain wow factor.
Must be real man. Real black man. Real HOT black man.
Well, despite the slightly goofy quality of the character description, it seems Fellowes is following through on his intentions to make Downton more multi-cultural, and we should keep an eye out for a (hot, REAL?) Indian character soon too:
You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. [The show] certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period.
Do you think it's wrong that Downton Abbey hasn't had a black character before now?
Image via BBC