Shirley MacLaine Says Downton Abbey Set Seemed Haunted

BY Jeremy Kinser

June 04 2012 2:23 PM ET

Shirley MacLaine reveals details of her much-anticipated appearance on season 3 of Downton Abbey and says the set "seemed haunted and full of otherworldly spirits."

MacLaine will appear in the first two episodes of the PBS hit as Martha Levinson, mother of Elizabeth McGovern's character, Lady Cora. "I sort of had to make her personality up," the Academy Award-winning actress tells TV Guide's Will Keck. "She is from Long Island and finally lands at Downton Abbey and sees what's happening to the place when everyone's coming back from the war." MacLaine says what made the character interesting to her is "her reactions to tradition and the class system. I do my best to be kind to tradition, but frankly think it should shift."

Further whetting fans' appetite for the season 3 premiere is confirmation that MacLaine will have scenes with Dame Maggie Smith, whose indelible portrayal of the acid-tongued Dowager Countess is a standout. "Our characters' relationship is probably not what you'd think," MacLaine says. "Maggie and I are both so old, we have a lot of time on us to discuss."          

MacLaine, who has written numerous books about her belief in reincarnation, describes the set as "stepping back in time. The whole place seemed haunted and full of otherworldly spirits."

Tags: television

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