Paul Giamatti To Spend Christmas at ‘Downton Abbey’

It’s time for Mr. Carson to break out the good silverware, there’s an Academy Award nominee visiting Downton Abbey in season four.

Carnival Films and ITV announced today that Paul Giamatti is joining the cast as Cora’s “maverick, playboy brother” in the Christmas episode, where he’ll be joined by returning guest star Shirley MacLaine in the season’s final episode. Giamatti is the latest in a long list of newcomers set to descend on the Grantham family’s homestead this season including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Gary Carr.

“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,” said Gareth Neame, Carnival Films’ Managing Director. “We can’t wait to see him work alongside Shirley MacLaine, who are both sure to upset the Grantham’s apple cart in this year’s Christmas Day episode.”

In addition to his Oscar nomination for Cinderella Man, acclaimed actor Giamatti is an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG award winner. His credits include the HBO miniseries John Adams, Sideways and Barney’s Version.

Do you think Giamatti is a good pick for Cora’s playboy brother?

Downton Abbey‘s eight-episode fourth season and feature length Christmas special will premiere this fall in the UK on ITV, with the series’ U.S. premiere slated for January 5, 2014 on PBS.