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'Downton Abbey': Will Matthew Crawley Be Played By Someone Else Now That Dan Stevens Is Out?

12/04/2012 01:09 pm ET

Could someone else play Matthew Crawley on "Downton Abbey"? Dan Stevens, the actor who makes hearts swoon, is reportedly leaving the series, set only to appear in the Season 4 premiere, but he's a central part to the show's biggest romance.

According to EW, "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes won't recast the role. "I can't see us doing that,” he said.

“Sometimes actors feel they want to move on. Initially, for the first two or three [seasons] you can contract them, but after that, every season, you have to re-contract them,” Fellowes told EW. "If they don’t want to come back, there’s nothing we can do.”

Stevens isn't the only possible "Downton" departure. Rumors have swirled about Maggie Smith's involvement with the series after reports surfaced that she hasn't signed on for additional seasons, like most of the cast had.

“It's entirely up to her when she stays and when she goes," Fellowes told TVLine. "I hope she stays with the show until Downton falls down."

"Downton Abbey" returns to PBS on Sunday, January 6.

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