The Oscar winner loves the cast and says costar Maggie Smith is fun

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 24, 2012 07:45 AM
Splash News Online; Getty

She’ll add some sass to the class.

The welcome news that Shirley MacLaine is joining the British bluebloods for Season 3 of the TV hit Downton Abbey has speculation running high on just how she’ll fit in.

To her own eye, it appears to be just fine. Set to play an American character named Martha Levinson, who is the mother of Cora, Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), the 77-year-old Oscar winner Tweeted from the set in England this week.

“Everything is going well. We shot outside in wind and rain. Love the cast and crew,” MacLaine said Wednesday, before adding on Thursday: “Amazing day on Downton Abbey set. I love the British humor and temperament and functionality. Maggie [Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess] is so subtle and so much fun!”

Granted, that doesn’t reveal a lot, considering there were a few cliffhangers dangled before viewers on last Sunday’s Season 2 finale (spoilers ahead): Will the wedding come off without a hitch? Will the injured war veteran who survived the Titanic come back to challenge the succession? Will Bates’s conviction be overturned? Will Thomas survive as Lord Grantham’s valet?

The day after Sunday’s finale aired on PBS to near-record ratings – 5.4 million viewers, the network’s highest since Ken Burns’s 2009 documentary The National Parks and a 30-percent rise over Downton‘s Season 2 premiere last fall – The New York Times pressed the series’ writer-creator Julian Fellowes for the slightest crumb about what’s to come.

But not even The Times could get Fellowes to spill.

Asked if Downton Abbey might extend beyond Season 3, or at some point come to an end, Fellowes replied cryptically, “Sufficient unto the day.” After a laugh, he added, “I feel that one can’t really think much beyond that. Although I agree, I do not think it should just go on and on forever.”

Season 3 will debut in the U.K. this fall, though it won’t hit American shores until early next year. Drat.