George Clooney is spending Christmas with the Crawleys.
The actor’s much-buzzed-about guest appearance in a “Downton Abbey” sketch for ITV’s Text Santa charity has finally been revealed. And he’s every bit as stylish and debonaire as you’d expect.
In a comic play on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Hugh Bonneville’s Lord Grantham has lost the family fortune and, in a moment of George Bailey-esque despondence, wishes he had never been born. An angel, played by Joanna Lumley of “Absolutely Fabulous,” arrives to give him a glimpse into that alternate reality.
Cue Clooney, who plays George Oceans Gravity (aka Lord Hollywood), the abbey’s new earl and Lady Grantham’s hunky new leading man. Impeccably turned out in a classic three-piece suit and oxfords, the smooth-talking Clooney charms all the Downton women — even the no-nonsense Dowager Countess, who swoons right off the settee.
Jeremy Piven also makes a cameo in his “Mr. Selfridge” role, making a special fashion delivery to the ladies. His legendary salesmanship even wins over Downton’s curmudgeonly butler Mr. Carson, who holds up a pair of scarlet-red shoes and asks whether they come in a size 13.
Though Lord Grantham is shocked by all he sees — “Downton has gone to rack and ruin without me,” he discovers — all comes out well in the end: His loyal downstairs servants save the day by pooling together their savings to help him keep the family estate.
And better still, the “Downton” spoof helped ITV net the highest fundraising total — roughly $8.5 million — in its Text Santa charity’s four-year history.
Here, a look at Clooney’s day on-set with the Downton gang: