Dan Stevens leaves 'Downton Abbey'

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Stevens stars as Matthew Crawley in "Downton Abbey." (AP Photo)

Warning: The links in this post contain spoilers for the upcoming third season of "Downton Abbey."

Dan Stevens, who plays the upwardly mobile Matthew Crawley on Brit hit "Downton Abbey," will not return for an upcoming fourth season. Stevens' departure doesn't come as a total shock to "Downton" diehards. His departure was rumored when season three began shooting.

The show, which recently wrapped up its third season in England, will begin its U.S. run on January 6 on PBS.

"We were always optioned for three years," Stevens told the Telegraph. "And when that came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things." Stevens is currently starring with "Zero Dark Thirty's" Jessica Chastain in a production of "The Heiress" on Broadway. He also recently joined a film about Wikileaks' Julian Assange

Watch Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

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