A hangover of US proportions… Sideways’ Paul Giamatti is set to star in Downton Abbey.From The Hangover to Downton Abbey? Please say it isn’t so.

In a casting move sure to fire up British period drama die-hards worried that an American flag is being hoisted above the glorious (fictional) estate of the Grantham family, American actor Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of Downton Abbey.

Giamatti starred as Kingsley in The Hangover, Part II. He also plays The Rhino in Amazing Spiderman 2, which will be released next year.

Among his other credits is the role of Dr Satan in The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. (Okay, now we’re getting personal.)

To be fair, Giamatti is also an accomplished theatre actor, and starred in the film Sideways. He has played Hamlet on stage to critical acclaim. And he has played period – in the HBO miniseries John Adams, for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

The 46-year-old actor, who was born in New Haven, Connecticut, will play Harold Levinson, the “maverick, playboy brother” to Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora, the American-born Countess of Grantham, in Downton Abbey.

That makes him the on-screen son of actress Shirley MacLaine, who plays Cora’s wealthy, mouthy American mother, Martha Levinson.

“We’re excited that Paul Giamatti will be joining us on Downton to play Cora’s brother Harold, the rather free-spirited uncle to Mary and Edith,” the show’s executive producer, Gareth Neame, said. “We can’t wait to see him work alongside Shirley MacLaine.”

Downton Abbey’s fourth season is expected to make its debut in Britain later this year, and in the US in early 2014.

The Seven Network has not announced an Australian air date.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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