O'Brien is leaving "Downton Abbey," Masterpiece has confirmed to The Huffington Post ... and unlike Dan Stevens' departure, not many viewers will be sad to see the notoriously catty maid to Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) go.
"I'm not doing any more," Siobhan Finneran, who played O'Brien, revealed to the Press Association, via HuffPost UK. "O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being -- that was great to play."
Though Masterpiece confirmed that O'Brien would not appear in "Downton Abbey" Season 4, the door seems open for her return.
O'Brien has been a love-to-hate character throughout her three seasons on the show, from causing Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) miscarriage in Season 1 to the bitter feud she had with under-butler Thomas (Rob James-Collier) that led to her outing him in Season 3.
"People actually love that she's a nasty piece of work. They love to dislike her," Finneran told HuffPost TV in January of 2012. "I've always carried around with me [the idea that] something has happened to her to make her be the nasty piece of work that she can be ... She's worked since she was probably 14 or 15 years old, and has basically sacrificed her entire life to somebody else, for the good of their life and their home -- it's no wonder that she would get frustrated or angry about things."
"Downton Abbey" fans are still reeling from Stevens' departure from the series, which culminated in Matthew Crawley's untimely death in the Season 3 finale. Many viewers were furious over Matthew's death, indicated by a HuffPost poll that, at time of publish, showed 85 percent weren't happy and 15 saw how it could be good for "Downton Abbey."
"I had hoped that we would have one episode of this fourth season that I’m writing now, so we could have ended the Christmas episode on a happy note -– the baby, everything lovely. And then kill [Matthew] in the first episode of the next [season]," Fellowes explained to The New York Times in January. "But [Stevens] didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want his death to dominate the Christmas special, so that’s why we killed him at the very, very end. In a way I think it works quite well because we begin [Season] 4 six months later. We don’t have to do funerals and all that stuff. That’s all in the past by then."
How will O'Brien leave "Downton Abbey"? Will she die? Will she be fired? And will you miss her? Share your thoughts in the comments?
"Downton Abbey" Season 4 premieres (sans O'Brien) in the US on Masterpiece/PBS in January 2014.