Shirley MacLaine joins cast of Downton Abbey

Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine has been cast in 'Downton Abbey' as the mother of aristocratic Lady Grantham.

Shirley MacLaine has joined cast of 'Downton Abbey'.

The 'Terms of Endearment' actress will play Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham - played by Elizabeth McGovern - in the award-winning ITV1 period drama when it returns for a third series later this year.

Laura Mackie, director of drama at ITV said, "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, managing director of production company Carnival Films, added: "My late grandfather directed Shirley MacLaine in 'Gambit' in 1966 so it is a delight for me that she will be joining us on 'Downton Abbey'.

"Julian Fellowes 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."

In addition to 77-year-old Shirley joining the cast of 'Downton Abbey', it was recently revealed the drama could be making a move to the big screen.

An insider said: "Following the Golden Globe Awards Julian was chatting with various film directors and movie executives about the show and the possibility it would make a fantastic feature film. Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep were also seen chatting and congratulating him.

"He was very much flying the flag for British TV. They were all chatting about how much of a success the film version would be. Julian was explaining he would have to give the idea a lot of thought and that lots of people have already asked him about film rights."

It is thought that if 'Downton' does make a move to the big screen, the movie would deal with a single big event that engulfs the characters, rather than detracting from the ongoing dramas in the TV series.


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