Shirley MacLaine Goes Head to Head with Maggie Smith on Downtown Abbey
We’re thrilled that Richmond, Virginia, native Shirley MacLaine is guest starring on this season of “Downtown Abbey” so that we finally have an excuse to talk about the PBS hit show. Famous for “Terms of Endearment,” “Steel Magnolias” and last year’s “Bernie,” MacLaine arrived on the scene in last night’s “Downtown Abbey” premier as Cora’s mother about 5o minutes in.
Lady Cora had already prefaced her mother, Martha Levinson, by promising she’d bring plenty of drama with her from America, and the best parts from last night’s show feature MacLaine and Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Violet quipping over the differences between the English and Americans.
MacLaine’s been dishing about the show to everybody from The Saturday Evening Post to The New York Daily News. In an exclusive interview with The Post, she says she hadn’t even seen “Downton Abbey” until her hairdresser told her about it. She quickly became a fan and says she and Smith got along just fine on set. In fact, Smith reminded her about the time they met 40 years ago at the Oscars. MacLaine didn’t win the award she was up for, so came back to the table and proceeded to eat a chocolate cake.
On her “Downton” wardrobe, MacLaine says, “The corsets were really demanding and the buttons on everything were so small. I understood the class system after getting ready every morning to go on set. I realized women of that time couldn’t get it together without a couple of servants.”
About working on set at the real-life Highclere Castle, MacLaine says it was haunted and that photos came off the wall. “Shooting there was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she told the NY Daily.
According to a PBS press release, MacLaine is part of the cast for the entire season, so this won’t be the last we see of her.