PBS; Inset: FilmMagic
Stephen M. Silverman
June 24, 2013 03:50 PM

No stranger to period pieces – as those who saw him in the superlative HBO miniseries John Adams will attest – Paul Giamatti is joining the cast of Downton Abbey next year, for the season 4 finale, PBS announced on its website Monday.

He’ll play the playboy brother of Cora, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), and the son of Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine, who is also returning to the popular British drama).

Downton Abbey has seen many great characters visit the house over the years, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome the new faces that will be joining the regular cast of Downton Abbey in Season 4,” the show’s executive producer, Gareth Neame, said in a statement that really doesn’t spill any beans.

Previously announced other new additions to the cast include actors Tom Cullen, whose character, Lord Gillingham, is described as “an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party”; Harriet Walter, set to play Lady Shackleton (“an old friend of the Dowager [Maggie Smith]“); and Julian Ovenden as Charles Blake, described only as an “aristocrat” – but aren’t they all?

Also set to entertain: the soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, whose role will be that of “a guest who sings in the house.”

Of course, not returning will be Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley, and Jessica Brown Findlay, who was Lady Sybil Siobhan. Both met unfortunate demises last season.

In another shocker, it was also made known that actress Siobhan Finneran, who made trouble as the housemaid Mrs. O Brien, has exited the series – though there have been rumblings that she may appear again, if only sporadically.

In any event, don’t start brewing the tea just yet. The new season is not set to debut in the States until Jan. 5, 2014.

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