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Summer in February: An interview with Dan Stevens

Producers Pippa Cross and Janette Day had already read an early draft of the script, but it was not until the summer of 2011 that they returned to the project. In September, they realised that, if they were to complete the film during the next ‘window’ in Dan Stevens’ ‘Downton Abbey’ production schedule, they would need to start immediately.

Fellow producer Jeremy Cowdrey agrees that initially, it was something of scramble. “We saw Dan’s agent, who said we could only have him in January and then, after the third series of ‘Downton Abbey’, they couldn’t guarantee him. Dan was associated so much with it. He’s been involved all along. I just felt it would not be right to do it without him. So I asked Janette and Pippa, would it be an unrealistic gamble to go for January? They thought it was tricky but doable.”

“It was a pretty swift effort,” recalls Cross, “but perfect in the end, of course. We couldn’t have shot almost any of what we shot in Cornwall, where the story is set, if we had waited until the weather as more guaranteed. The obvious time to go to Cornwall is when the sun is shining and it’s a bit warmer, but then it’s also very busy. The great joy about being there in January and February was that we had it all to ourselves and we shot the hell out of it.”

Executive producer and co-star Dan Stevens is thrilled with the way his long-nurtured project has been brought to life.

It’s a lovely core cast of seven. Dominic has really taken to Munnings and has breathed this hilarious, raucous life into him. For a man who, by all accounts, wasn’t very likeable, he made him quite likeable. One of the keys to the success of the film is that he is a rogue, but Gilbert has to love him and Florence has to love him to an extent and Laura is very, very fond of him, even if Harold isn’t, and Joey obviously looks up to him. It’s an odd network of relationships and Laura, in a funny way, is right in the middle of it, along with Gilbert. Everybody likes both of them on some level and respects them a lot.

As actors together everybody has been very supportive of each other and I think that comes from loving the story and loving the community of it. It’s been a fun gang to work with.

Catch Summer in February on the big screen, or head down to Prussia Cove and Lamorna to recreate your own scenes…