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TV Critics Tour: Shirley MacLaine on 'Downton Abbey' and Long Island

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

Beverly Hills -- Shirley MacLaine is joining "Downton Abbey" next season, and -- well, let HER tell you about it.

"I walked into my hairdresser lady in Malibu and they were talking about [the show]. And I don't know. 'What do they mean? I better go look,'" she told the TV press mob here on Saturday.

"I did. And then soon after that ... Well, I have to tell you ... Oh, man, I ran three months of it and I was just as addicted as everybody else, making me wonder about my attention deficit syndrome ...

"Then, when it was announced, I was going to do Martha Levinson, I didn't know anything about her. I don't even know if you do.

"But my hairdresser does.

 "All the ladies in my hairdressing place said, 'Oh, she's Jewish and she's from Long Island and she has a lot of money and she's looking for a tight old man.'"

"I thought ... that might be ... that might be worthwhile investigating."

 MacLaine was -- of course -- asked about working with Maggie Smith.

 "Oh God, should I tell this story?"

She was urged to tell it.

"Well, we were lovers in another life."

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