Now one TV star has admitted that criticism from fans hit home, pushing him to go on a diet and lose 21 lbs.
"I think viewers will notice that I've lost [weight] since the first series," he said. "It's pretty much down to the fact that I had tons of comments on Twitter about how fat Matthew was looking."
"It was true," he added. "I'd put on weight. I took it as positive criticism and started back at the gym and watched what I ate."
A slimmed-down Matthew -- heir to the Downton Abbey estate -- seems more appropriate for Season 2, much of which is set during World War I. "It's a very different landscape from the manicured lawns of Downton. I spend a lot of time in the filthy trenches," Stevens said.
So, will the fact that there's less of Matthew to love adversely affect his relationship with Lady Mary? We think not. Actress Michelle Dockery told AOL TV that one constant throughout the series is the bond between Lady Mary and Matthew: "That spark has really never burned out."
'Downton Abbey' Season 2 premieres Jan. 8, 2012 on PBS.