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September 2012
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Shirley MacLaine Chats About Joining Cast Of Downton Abbey

The highly-anticipated, thrilling third season of Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey will be debuting on tpt in a few months.

The Great War is over and a long-awaited engagement is on, but all is not tranquil at Downton Abbey as wrenching social changes, romantic intrigues, and personal crises grip the majestic English country estate.

With the return of its all-star cast plus guest star Academy Award®-winner Shirley MacLaine, Downton Abbey will air over seven Sundays on tpt beginning in January.

MacLaine plays widowed American heiress Martha Levinson, mother of Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham

In a recent article with The Telegraph UK, MacLaine admits she was drawn to the show not necessarily for its popularity but for a "personal" reason.

"I had a crush on Bates [the Earl of Grantham's brooding valet]. And Julian Fellowes being as canny a person as one can be, he arranged a lunch for a bunch of us at which Brendan [Coyle, who plays Bates] was there. I don't know if Julian thought maybe Cora's mother would take up with a younger man – I don't know what he thought. But I would not have said no."

In this season of Downton Abbey, MacLaine plays an heiress from the days when American women who had money were looking for titles, and British titled men were looking for American money – just like Cora Crawley and the Earl of Grantham's union.

MacLaine's character arrives as the American counterpoint to Maggie Smith's stuffy Dowager Countess.

"Martha's basic role in these episodes is to plead with the Dowager Countess to wrest herself, if possible, away from tradition," MacLaine told The Telegraph. "Because that's what caused the war in the first place. And [for the Countess] to become more flexible in relating to change."

MacLaine said most of their time working together was spent in a church, filming the wedding of Lady Mary to Matthew Crawley.

"She and I were sitting in a pew. Neither one of us likes to get up and sit down over and over because we're old ladies. So we sat there together for about six hours just reminiscing about life and health and politics and show business. It was so fabulous to be with such a great person for six hours straight," said MacLaine.

To read the entire article from The Telegraph UK, click here.


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