Downtown Abbey

Shirley MacLaine Says She and Maggie Smith ‘Talk About Our Lives, Our Past, Our Lovers’

  In a candid interview with, legendary actress Shirley MacLaine opened up about her role on season 4 of Downton Abbey, bonding on set with Maggie Smith, and her latest book, What If…A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure.

We all loved the dynamic between you and Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey last season. Can we expect more of the same in season 4?
“Oh yes! We have another little gunfight at the O.K. Corral in this new one. In fact, I think it’s a little bit more intense…You know, Maggie and I have known each other for 40 years, so we sit around and talk about our lives, our past, our lovers, our attitude towards fame.”

Do you watch Downton Abbey?
“[Yes]. I was so shocked last year—when Matthew got killed in the car crash, I couldn’t believe it! I jumped out of bed and tried to call Julian Fellowes. You know, ‘What’s going on here?’ I was so stunned. I think it had to do with the schedule—nobody knew it until the very end!”

Do you have any advice for young stars like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift on how to handle fame?
“Yeah—cool it. [Their antics] influence the response to their actual work. They’re good musicians and they’re good with translating music into lyrics, into expression. But all we think of is what they do antic-wise…they’ve become a product.”

Do you ever grow weary when people call you a legend with a capital ‘L’? Do you see yourself that way?

“Absolutely not. Icon, legend—I don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m still living in reality, like, what time is my lunch coming? No, I don’t relate to that other at all—really, I don’t. I don’t understand when people kind of bow to my past or to my resume.”

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