Shirley MacLaine will be a new resident on "Downton Abbey". The Ella Hirsch of "In Her Shoes" is cast to join the show for its upcoming third season to portray Martha Levinson, the American mother of Lady Grantham, who is portrayed by another American actress Elizabeth McGovern.
"My late grandfather directed Shirley MacLaine in 'Gambit' in 1966 so it is a delight for me that she will be joining us on Downton Abbey," said executive producer Gareth Neame. He further gushed, "[Creator] Julian [Fellowes] has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess and we are excited at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her."
"Downton Abbey" season 3, which reportedly will take the narrative into the 1920s, is scheduled to start filming next month for an expected September premiere in U.K. The U.S. premiere will follow later as the show's second season is currently airing Stateside on PBS.
MacLaine earned an Academy Award for her portrayal of Aurora Greenway in 1983's "Terms of Endearment". The 77-year-old also landed a number of Golden Globe nominees and won some of them, including for her role in "Madame Sousatzka". She will next be seen in "Bernie", which is set for a March release in the U.S.