Maggie Smith on Those Downton Abbey Rumors: 'I Don't Know How It Could Go On'
As season five of Downton Abbey came to a romantic end on Sunday (Carson proposed! Does Mary have a new love interest?) Maggie Smith fueled speculation that the show’s next season could be its last.
“They say this is the last one, and I can t see how it could go on,” Smith told The Sunday Times with just a hint of her character the Dowager Countess’s sarcastic sense of humor: “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now!”
The rumor mill began speculating about the end of the hit PBS series earlier this year when it was revealed that the show s writer and creator Julian Fellowes had signed up to work on a new period drama with NBC, The Gilded Age, which set in 19th-century New York.
Whatever the future may hold, it s business as usual for the award-winning cast. “We began filming [the sixth season] a month ago, and we’ll be filming until August,” a spokesperson for the show tells PEOPLE, adding that despite the ongoing speculation “the show is commissioned on a season-by-season basis, so we just don t know yet and that s always been the case.”
Meanwhile, Smith, 80, who has won a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards and two Emmys for her role as the sharp-tongued Violet, says the success of the show has not come without its limitations. “One isn’t safe after doing Downton,” she says, referring to the public attention the stars receive wherever they go. “What s sad is I’ve gone my whole life without any of that. I could go round galleries and things on my own and I just can t do it now.”
And it when it comes to selfies – be warned. “What’s awful is it used to be just autographs, but now everyone wants photographs,” Smith says. “You begin to feel like all those people who believed photographs took the soul away.”
The British Dame is currently hitting the big screen with Downton Abbey co-star Penelope Wilton (who plays her frenemy Isobel Crawley in the show) in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which hits theaters on March 6.