Season three of "Downton Abbey" ended with a shocker that sent fans reeling: Matthew, the heir to the Abbey, the love of Lady Mary's life and the most swoon-worthy gent on the show, died. It's something actor Dan Stevens, the man behind Matthew, has had to answer for ever since.
"A lot of people were quite upset by that," Stevens admitted on TODAY Thursday morning. "I spend a lot of my time apologizing. Yeah, I get a lot of, 'My wife was very upset by this. You have to apologize to my wife!' Then they call them over. 'Katherine! Come over here. This is the young man that upset you.' 'Say sorry!' You have to apologize, in public ... a lot, almost every day."
While it was Stevens himself who decided to leave the show, he wasn't expecting the response his departure sparked.
"I suppose it was a surprise," he said. "It's a testament to how much people love the show, how much people love the character. In a way it was nice, but it has upset a lot of people, so I'm sorry."
One of those viewers who was so upset was TODAY's own Jenna Bush Hager, who was pregnant at the time the episode aired.
"Did you call him Matthew?" Stevens asked about the baby's name when he learned of the timing.
Alas, she had a girl named Mila.
"Downton" has now moved on without Stevens, and he's tuned in to see how it all plays out.
"It was really wonderful to see everyone again," he said. "It was very emotional, very weird watching people dealing with my own death. It was strange."
But now audiences will have a chance to see him outside of the abbey in his new film, "Summer in February," which he shot while working on "Downton."
"I had these two projects set in 1913 at the same time," he said, adding that he's "thrilled" that American audiences will get to see the romantic drama.
"Summer in February" hits select theaters Jan. 17 and is currently available on video-on-demand. "Downton Abbey" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS.
First published January 9 2014, 8:18 AM