As if Downton Abbey wasn’t upper crust enough, a member of Hollywood royalty is on dinner list for season three. Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment) is going to join the cast of the “Masterpiece Classic” hit, as the mother of Lady Cora Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).
For those unfamiliar with Downton Abbey, Lady Cora is a wealthy American who in an arranged marriage with the Robert Crawley, Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), allowed her the Countess title and he was given access to her wealth to maintain Downton Abbey.
MacLaine will be raising the American ingredient on the show and we fully expect her and Maggie Smith’s character, Violet, Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey, to share the screen on a several occasions to get a few gasps from viewers. Maybe she’ll find some common ground with Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton, Shaun of the Dead). Sit down, Violet. This season could be a long one for you.
One could view MacLaine’s addition as an answer to the rise in popularity amongst American audiences. Wins at last year’s Emmy Awards and the Golden Globes a few weeks ago have raised the profile stateside, and creators Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame who admit to writing each season as the go along, are planning to shake it up for the third season. How Lady Cora’s mother fits into the storyline is anyone’s guess.
The second season which is currently airing on PBS on Sunday nights at 9pm will conclude Feb. 19, spans 1916-1920 and makes no mention of Lady Cora’s family from the states. Instead it’s examining Downton Abbey as it is being used to shelter and heal the sick and injured soldiers fighting in World War I. There is no word on when the third season will air, but it is expected to hit the U.K. in the fall and likely the states in early 2013. While the third season is a promise of peace, something tells me there will be anything but at Downton Abbey with Shirley MacLaine in town.