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British actor Dan Stevens rose to widespread popularity in 2010, playing the role of Matthew Crawley on the hit ITV period drama Downton Abbey. Born in Croydon, London, on October 10, 1982, Stevens began acting at Tonbridge School in Kent, earning the title role in William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the age of 15. After studying at Cambridge, he landed his first professional acting role in 2004, playing Orlando in a prominent touring production of Shakespeare's As You Like It. Over the next six years, Stevens split his time between stage and screen, appearing in BBC adaptations of classics like Sense & Sensibility and Dracula alongside popular theatrical productions like the 2009 West End revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.
Stevens' rise into the popular zeitgeist occurred in late 2010 when he was cast in one of the central roles in Julian Fellowes' wildly successful television series Downton Abbey. Playing the heir to an aristocratic Yorkshire estate in early 20th century England, Stevens' Matthew Crawley enchanted viewers in a love story that lasted three seasons before his character was written out at the end of 2012. Shifting his focus to the big screen, Stevens appeared in a variety of films from the 2014 action thriller The Guest to playing Sir Lancelot in the comedy Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Tackling the American television market, he next took a lead role in FX's Noah Hawley-created sci-fi drama Legion in 2016. A year later Stevens made his Disney debut alongside Emma Watson, appearing as the Beast in a live action adaptation of the romantic musical Beauty and the Beast, and also singing on its soundtrack. ~ Timothy Monger