Pop Culture

American invasion of 'Downton Abbey' continues: Paul Giamatti joins cast

Paul Giamatti.

There was a time when Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) was the lone Yank on "Downton Abbey," but those days are long gone.

Last season, her mother, Martha (Shirley MacLaine), arrived on the scene -- much to the displeasure of the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) -- and next season, the American invasion will continue.

The next non-Brit on his way to the Abbey is Cora's brother, and if Lady Violet cringed at every Americanism out of Martha's mouth, she's bound to be positively apoplectic about Harold, as played by the oh-so-modern American Paul Giamatti.

Yes, that's right. The man who once played Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton in Howard Stern's "Private Parts" is joining the show.

At first the actor might seem like an odd fit for the "Dowton" ensemble, but fans can take heart. Giamatti already mastered the art of the perfect period piece performance in HBO's "John Adams," for which he won an Emmy, and it's not like he'll be channeling any of his past crude, nerdy or neurotic on-screen personas for his "Downton" role. In fact, according to TVLine, Giamatti's Harold is a "maverick, playboy" type.

Executive producer Gareth Neame told TVLine that Harold would be "free spirited," and that he -- along with mom Martha -- holds the promise of upsetting "the Grantham apple cart" by the end of season four.

But there's still a long wait for the beginning of season four -- at least for Harold's fellow Americans. "Downton Abbey" returns to PBS Jan. 5, 2014.