CANNES — Michelle Dockery, who found fame around the globe as “Downton Abbey’s” Lady Mary Crawley, was honored with the first Variety Icon Award for Canneseries at Saturday’s official opening ceremony for the inaugural Cannes TV fest.
Described by Variety’s Stewart Clarke as “an actor at the top of their game during this golden age of scripted television,” Dockery, striking in a one-strap full-length red evening gown, told a packed Palais des Festivals crowd that in the last decade, “pretty well as long as I’ve been doing TV,” television had “transformed enormously.” “I feel extremely fortunate to be part of the international surge in its landscape,” she added.
She had another, more personal, reason for being happy for the Variety Icon Award.
As a teenager Dockery was “obsessed” with television, she confessed on stage in her acceptance speech: “I would sit with my mum and dad, we would watch ‘Prime Suspect,’ starring the great Helen Mirren, Jimmy McGovern’s ‘Cracker,’ and ‘The Jewel in the Crown.’ Those were the shows which inspired me to pursue a career in acting.”
Fittingly, Dockery dedicated the Variety Icon Award to “my Mum and Dad.”
A career reel reminded the audience of the range of Dockery’s performances and indeed accents, from Lady Mary’s cut-glass vowels to the American twang of Western “Godless.”
Clarke put Dockery’s success in context: “After ‘Downton Abbey,’ Dockery went on to star in U.S. cable network TNT’s drama series ‘Good Behavior,’ and can currently be seen in Netflix’s original limited series ‘Godless,’ the Western drama that has won praise from fans and critics alike…meaning she has now starred in hit free TV, cable TV, and streaming TV series.”
Fleur Pellerin, Canneseries president, joined Clarke on stage to give Dockery the first Variety Icon Award.
The Award was one highlight of the opening ceremony, the other the presence on stage of Jean-Jacques Annaud, Patrick Dempsey, Ben Schnetzer (“Snowden”) and Kristine Froseth, for a sneak peek 35 minute presentation of select scenes from “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair.”
The 10-part series is produced by MGM Television, Eagle Pictures and Barbary Films. MGM Television handles international sales.
Described by Annaud as a “thriller about impossible love,” “The Truth” turns on a young novelist who in 2008, suffering writer’s block, seeks out his mentor Quebert, author of a masterpiece of modern American literature, but suddenly indicted with the abduction and murder of a 15-year-old girl who befriended Quebert the same summer back in 1975 as he wrote his novel.
From the scenes screened, Annaud’s uses sweeping aerial shots to capture the beauty of the Maine coast. Those contrast with a narrative, switching back and forth from 2008 and 1975, where everything – and everybody – are not what they seem.
A big series with a star and star director “The Truth” looks like, from the scenes shown, that it could sit comfortably in open-air primetime while its strong mystery murder drive makes it ideal for compulsive SVOD binge viewing.