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Shirley MacLaine joins Downton Abbey

Shirley Maclaine

Story by Jack Foley

OSCAR-winning US actress Shirley MacLaine has joined the cast of Downton Abbey.

The veteran screen legend will join the third series as the mother of Elizabeth McGovern’s Lady Grantham, a character named Martha Levinson.

She will begin filming with the rest of the cast next month.

Announcing the casting coup on Monday night (January 30, 2012), Laura Mackie, ITV’s director of drama, said: “It is so exciting to have an actress of Shirley MacLaine’s stature joining our brilliant Downton Abbey cast. It’s a tribute to the show’s success on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Gareth Neame, of Downton producer Carnival Films, added: “Julian [Fellowes] has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.”

In a career spanning decades, MacLaine has starred in more than 50 films and won her Oscar in 1984 for Terms of Endearment.

She has been nominated for a further five Academy Awards and recently received France’s most prestigious cultural award, the Legion of Honour.

Next story: Susan Sarandon joining The Big C