- Michelle Dockery and John Dineen met in 2013.
- Dineen, a public relations executive, proposed to the Downton Abbey actress in early 2015; however, the pair never made it down the aisle. Dineen died unexpectedly in December 2015.
- In 2016, three months after his death, she returned to work to film Good Behavior. Now, she's gearing up for the U.S. release of the Downton Abbey movie, in theaters on September 20.
When Michelle Dockery met John Dineen, she knew he was special. In September 2014, the Downton Abbey star told reporters she was in love—“I have a wonderful man in my life"—but that was all. The details of their relationship remained veiled in secrecy until Dineen's untimely death in 2015. However, after his death, Dockery opened up about their relationship, and why she'll never let him go.
Here's everything we know about Dineen, their relationship, and Dockery's devastating loss.
2013: Dockery and Dineen begin dating.
Rumors of Dockery and Dineen's relationship began swirling in early 2013; however, their "status" wasn't confirmed until September 2013, when Dockery and Dineen were spotted together at the Venice Film Festival. But how did the pair meet? According to Dockery, she was introduced to Dineen by Downton Abbey co-star Allen Leech.
2015: Dineen proposes to Dockery.
While Dockery has never opened up about the details of their engagement, several news outlets—including The Telegraph—reported Dineen proposed to the Downton Abbey actress in early 2015. At the time, a source told The Sun Dockery showed fellow Downton cast members her engagement ring. "She looked over the moon and was showing it off to all of the cast and crew," The Telegraph reported.
2015: Dineen dies.
John Dineen died at Cork’s Marymount Hospital in Ireland on December 13, 2015. He was 34 years old. Days later, The Irish Times reported Dockery gave an emotional eulogy. "I was honored to know John. To love him and be loved by him. He was my friend, my king, my hero, my everything. We celebrate him, we honor him and we will miss him."
Speaking with The Guardian two years later, she said, "John was a very private person, and the hardest thing was keeping it out of the press when he was sick. It took a lot."
2016: Dockery returns to work.
Three months after losing her fiancé, Dockery was spotted filming scenes for Good Behavior.
2017: Dockery opens up about grief, life after Dineen, and what it's like to be a "widow."
Dockery and Dineen never made it down the aisle, but in 2017, the actress revealed her pain was just as great. "I don’t have the vocabulary to describe what it felt like. And what it still feels like," Dockery told The Guardian. “I’ve never been more committed to anything in my life than to him."
She also revealed she did (and still does) consider her a "widow."
“We were engaged, and married at heart," Dockery said, "so [yes,] I do consider myself a widow."
In addition, Dockery opened up to The Guardian about reliving her experience while filming Downton Abbey. Her character, Lady Mary, Lord and Lady Grantham's oldest daughter, became a widow in the story. "One of the most difficult things at the time was the parellels with Mary," she said. "It was just baffling, and still is to me, that my character's storyline was so similar."
Today: Dockery is moving forward but will never truly move on.
It has been nearly four years since Dineen's death, and while Dockery has returned to work—the actress is currently filming a new TV series, Defending Jacob, and the Downton Abbey movie opens in theaters later this week—Dockery told The Guardian things will never be the same. “You see things differently,” the actress said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone or expect them to know.”
Ultimately, she shared that Dineen's resilience keeps her going. "I'm not not exaggerating when I say that John did not complain once, never, not once, and that gave us strength," she told The Guardian. "It's what keeps you going, that positivity—to never lose that hope for a miracle. I couldn't have doing it any other way."