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Shirley MacLaine to join 'Downton Abbey' cast

January 30, 2012 | 11:16 am

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Move over, Maggie Smith! 

According to a press release from Carnival Films and ITV, the U.K. producers of "Downton Abbey," Shirley MacLaine will join the ensemble cast of Julian Fellowes' hit period piece when it begins filming its third season next month. The Oscar-winning star of "Terms of Endearment" will play Martha Levinson, mother of American-born Lady Grantham. 

It's a huge coup for "Downton Abbey," which airs in the U.S. as part of PBS' "Masterpiece Classic" series.

As Laura Mackie, director of drama at ITV, acknowledged, "It is so exciting to have an actress of Shirley MacLaine's stature joining our brilliant Downton Abbey cast for series three and a tribute to the show's success on both sides of the Atlantic."

Gareth Neame, Carnival Films’ Managing Director, also dropped hints about the upcoming season: "Julian has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess and we are excited at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her.”

We can't wait.

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— Meredith Blake 
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

 

Photo: The cast of "Downton Abbey"

Credit: Carnival Films/Masterpiece

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