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Shirley MacLaine joins 'Downton Abbey'

Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine is joining Britain’s popular

Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine is joining Britain’s popular television series “Downton Abbey.” She will play the mother of Lady Grantham, portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern, in the third season of the hit period drama. Credit: Getty Images

Well how about this? Shirley MacLaine will join "Downton Abbey" next season as the American mother of Elizabeth McGovern's character, Lady Grantham. Announcement was made a little while ago. Per the PBS press release: 

"Shirley MacLaine is a great actress and she's as American as the day is long," says Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "I can't wait to see her go toe-to-toe with Maggie Smith's Lady Violet."

Carnival Films’ managing director, Gareth Neame said, "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 has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson."

  Mark those words "toe-to-toe with Maggie Smith's Lady Violet." That's obviously where this is going but the additional gives a nice and needed dimension to Lady Grantham too -- who is after all so vital to the show and about whose U.S. provenance is so little known. (Heiress...father is a dry goods titan from some place like Cincinatti...and so forth.)

  A recently posted McGovern interview, by the way, about Americans versus the British on the show... 

Watch Downton Abbey: Elizabeth McGovern on Americans vs. The British on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

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