Maggie Smith is one of the most accomplished and well-respected actresses, not just among the Downton Abbey cast but in the entire film industry. 86-years old as of 2022, the aging star and two-time Oscar winner turned some heads when she appeared in the trailer for Downtown Abbey: A New Era, the second feature film version of the popular show and the first appearance of the cast of characters since 2019.
Smith is returning as the dowager Violet Crawley, the weathered and sharp-tongued matriarch of the Crawley family. Smith has said before that she is finished with the character, she said so both in 2015 and in 2019, but somehow Downton Abbey producers always manage to convince her to return for the next project, but will this one be her last?
7 Hugh Bonneville Was Surprised She Returned
According to Hugh Bonneville, who plays Robert Crawley in the series, he was surprised to see Smith in good enough health to return. “I thought she was going to die in between films,” the actor tastelessly joked in an interview before getting serious and expressing his gratitude to have Smith in the film once again.
6 Smith Has Often Said She Is Finished Playing The Character
Bonneville also reflected on the fact that Smith has often said she is finished playing the character whenever a Downton Abbey project wraps and since Maggie Smith was already in her 80s when the last movie finished production, Bonneville and other cast members were probably convinced that this time she meant it when she said she was retiring from the character.
5 Elizabeth McGovern Was Surprised Too
Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, was present for the same interview and nodded in agreement with Bonneville and offered some insight as to why Smith returned by reflecting on why she stays with the franchise, “I think it is easy, especially for an actor to feel as though what you do has no value because you feel so helpless about solving the problems of the world, probably everybody alive does.” McGovern went on to say ‘But at an occasion like that I see a happy look on people’s faces and I think well this does have value it’s making people happy for a little while.” This could very easily explain why Smith goes back and forth from retiring from Downton Abbey to returning.
4 Harry Potter Fans Thought She Was Retiring
Speculation about Smith’s retirement skyrocketed in 2022 when fans of another one of her franchises noticed her suspicious absence. The Harry Potter Reunion Special streaming on HBOMax featured most of the original cast, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, etc. But some absentees did not escape unnoticed. Alan Rickman (Snape) was absent because he passed away in 2016. J.K. Rowling was absent because the franchise is keeping her at a distance after her controversial comments about trans people. But what was most noticeable, and the most disappointing for fans, was the absence of Professor McGonagall, who was played by Maggie Smith. Smith’s absence from the reunion caused a lot of speculation online whether or not she really was retiring this time.
3 No, She Is Not Retiring
Let’s put out this fire right now before it gets out of hand. NO, Maggie Smith is not retiring, even though she is in her late 80s, the actress has two more films in the works according to her IMDB page, A German Life and The Miracle Club are set to start production in 2022. Smith has 88 acting credits to her name as of 2022, including Oscar nominated roles in Gosford Park, Laurence Oliver’s Othello, and A Room With A View. Other classic titles with Maggie Smith include Death on The Nile, The Lady In The Van, and Sister Act. Even if Smith is not retiring yet, she has assuredly earned it.
2 Really, She Isn’t Retiring
Yes, it is a bit confusing because Smith has said time and time again that she IS retiring, at least from Downton Abbey, on several occasions. But it would seem every time she announces her retirement, she steps back into the role soon afterward. Smith would make her fans’ lives a lot easier if she would just stick to one plan when she announces it, but as long as fans get more of Maggie Smith’s performance they probably do not mind that she is so wishy-washy about her career.
1 This Might Be The End Of Her Character’s Story Arc
While Maggie Smith will continue acting after this movie, fans speculate that this might be the end of Violet Crawley’s story arc. After all, Smith does seem to be a little over the character, why else is she constantly hinting she is retiring from the franchise? And, while it is commendable that she continues to work so hard at such an advanced age, both Smith and her character are pushing their limits by continuing so much. Will this be the last time the audience gets see the drama of Violet’s life unfold? Watch Downton Abbey: A New Era and find out.