Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine has been cast as Cora’s mother in the third series of Downton Abbey, giving fans the prospect of some serious on-screen fireworks as her no-doubt feisty character locks-horns with Maggie Smith’s withering Dowager Countess.
The Oscar and Golden Globe-winning actress, who has enjoyed a glittering movie career, will play Martha Levinson, mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern). There had been rumours that Joan Collins would be taking the role, but MacLaine is a fine coup for ITV and her involvement indicates the level of success the show has received in the states.
The second series is currently airing on PBS and ratings are steadily climbing as the rave-reviews pour in. MacLaine sure to shake the world of Downton down to its very kitchens when she rocks up later this year and showrunner Gareth Neame has explained that she will be “a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess”.
ITV director of drama Laura Mackie 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.”
The third series which will follow the Crawley family and their servants as they move into the twenties, begins filming at the end of February.