Could the Dowager Countess' acid-tongued reign over Downton be drawing to an end?
Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the scathing Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on "Downton Abbey," has reportedly asked to leave the show at the end of Season 3, according to the UK's Daily Mail.
"Maggie has asked [writer] Julian [Fellowes] to write her character out," a source reportedly told the paper. "She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high.
"She thinks that three series is enough and she wants to get back to the stage and big screen," the source added. "She is keen to pursue other roles, so Julian is preparing to write her out. He always has several endings so it won't be too difficult for him, but losing Maggie will be a great loss."
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, in January, ITV and Carnival films confirmed Shirley MacLaine would soon join the "Downton" cast.
The Oscar-winning actress will play Martha Levinson, the American-born mother of Lady Grantham (played by Elizabeth McGovern) and will most certainly butt heads with Maggie's Dowager.
"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,'" Carnival Films' Managing Director Gareth Neame said in a statement at the time. "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."
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