Downton Abbey star mourns devastating death with heartfelt tribute

Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens has paid tribute following the death of his close friend, opera singer Maria Ewing.

MORE: Neighbours star dies suddenly aged 34

Maria, the former wife of late director Sir Peter Hall and the mother of actress and director Rebecca Hall, died aged 71 at her home in Detroit on Monday 10 January. Taking to Instagram, Dan shared a black-and-white photo of the talented soprano and wrote: "I will miss making you laugh. Rest in peace, Maria…"

WATCH: Check out the trailer for Rebecca Hall's Passing

Many of his followers were left touched by his post and took to the comment section to show support. "So sorry for your loss," one said while another added: "Rebecca looks so much like her mum. So sorry to hear this news."

MORE: In memoriam: remembering famous faces we lost in 2022

MORE: Downton Abbey fans spot same detail in new video ahead of movie sequel

It's believed that Dan has been a close family friend of the Halls for more than two decades. He first struck up a friendship with Rebecca when they were both undergraduates at the University of Cambridge. After spotting Dan in a university production of Shakespeare's Macbeth together, her father Peter Hall helped launch his career by casting him - alongside Rebecca - in his touring production of As You Like It.

Over the years, Rebecca and Dan have continued to work closely together, including on the 2017 film Permission and last year's lockdown production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.


Rebecca recently spoke about her mother's reaction to her directorial debut, Passing, which explores the practice of light-skinned black people "passing as white", inspired in part by her own family history. Although adapted from a 1929 novel by Nella Larson, Rebecca also drew on her mother's experience as someone who comes from mixed English, African and European heritage.

MORE: Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern makes very rare comment about director husband

In an interview with The Guardian in October 2021, Rebecca revealed that while Covid had prevented the two from sitting down to watch the movie together, her mother was "very proud".

"She watched it in not ideal circumstances, from my perspective, on her laptop. But then she called me and she was very emotional and very proud," Rebecca told the publication. "She said that she felt that it was like a huge release for her father – of what he could not say – and, in turn, her, and it was like being given a late-in-life gift."

Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox