When it was reported last week that Maggie Smith had not renewed her ‘Downton Abbey’ contract for season three, fans became concerned that she wasn’t going to return and that they were going to lose one of the strongest characters on the show right at it’s peak.
A new report from the Daily Mail UK says that while Smith is said to be back for season three, she has allegedly told creator Julian Fellowes that she wants to be written out of the show after that, so that she may pursue film and stage work. Fellowes has convinced Smith to at least stay until after the Christmas special. An insider said;
“Maggie has asked Julian to write her character out. 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.”
Although Fellowes has not completed the story line that will allow Smith to exit the show, a source claims that she will likely become victim to a fatal illness at the end of the third season. They said;
“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.”
Smiths’ character of the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey has quickly become one of the fan favorites, so her departure won’t sink the show, but it will certainly wound it.
This news has surfaced only a few weeks after U.S. executive producer Rebecca Eaton said that Smith”is a handful, it’s true. She’s very difficult. She knows her worth, and she’s tricky on the set, but she delivers when the time comes.” There has been no confirmation on if these comments influenced Smith’s decision to want to move on to other projects, or if she really just feels it’s time to move on.
Update: A spokesperson for the studio has blasted the rumors surrounding Smith’s alleged departure.
Photo: Masterpiece, PBS