Downton Abbey Sneak Peek Video: Shirley MacLaine Throws Shade at Dowager Countess!

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If Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess is the disdain-dropping Godzilla of Downton Abbey, then brace for the arrival of Mothra during the show’s upcoming third season.

Indeed, TV Land debuted a clip last night of Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine, who’ll play Lady Cora’s feisty mother Martha, landing the first blow in a war of words with her daughter’s delightfully acerbic mother-in-law. Did somebody just drop the word old? Uh-huh, she went there!

The clip aired as part of the American Film Institute’s 40th Life Achievement Award ceremony honoring MacLaine. (Check out a higher-quality version, but one that’s missing Maggie Smith’s retort, here.)

Downton Abbey is expected to return to the PBS lineup in early 2013.

Has this clip got you more excited for Season 3 of Downton Abbey? Does MacLaine’s Martha strike you as a worthy foe for the Dowager Countess? Sound off in the comments!

Comments (31)

  • The sound for this clip wasn’t great, but it does whet my appetite for the coming season. This is one of those shows that I need to own.

    Comment by Templar – June 25, 2012 08:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mothra? That’s an unusual American name.

    Comment by Diva – June 25, 2012 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Never mind, I just got it.

      Comment by Diva – June 25, 2012 09:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Can’t hear Shirley speaking “The King’s English” with proper accent.
      She can surprise.

      Comment by Carol T. – July 12, 2012 01:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Season Three will be a delicious romp I’m hoping … Shirley, as a street smart lady will certainly give the Downtown Abbey crowd a chance to see one of those ‘vulgar Americans’ up close and personal. I can’t wait to hear the scene stealing words that will be pouring from Violet’s mouth and the collective gasps from Abbeyites downstairs.

    Comment by Laurie Linda in Florida – June 25, 2012 09:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My entire family loves Downtown Abbey. We cannot wait to see the next season! Our appetites are ravenous. Woo Hoo!

    Comment by Susan – June 25, 2012 09:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I just bought season 2, & I’ve forced my mother to watch all the episodes on dvd. I absolutely love Downton Abbey, it brings to life many novels I’ve read. I love the set & the scenery. I love the actors & actresses. They draw you in & make you love them, or hate them, or both & make you care what happens to each of them! I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for the 3rd season, & seeing this clip with Shirley Maclaine & Maggie Smith & their sparring of words just makes me that much more excited! I think she was a wonderful choice to play Lady Cora’s American mother & I can hardly wait to see her in action!

    Comment by kimberlyinoklahoma580 – June 25, 2012 09:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Meow !!!!!!!!! Claws out !! Love it cannot wait !! – When does it start up again?

    Comment by Lillian Padula – June 25, 2012 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • See Paragraph four. ;-)

      Comment by TV Gord – June 25, 2012 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So excited about next season! Shirley and Maggie are a perfect match! If you need a family saga to keep you going until next season, read “No Angel” by Penny Vincenzi. It is the first book of a trilogy that is just fantastic! The characters are just as memorable as those in Downton Abbey!

    Comment by Patricia – June 25, 2012 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • as much as i wanted to, i didn’t find the exchange particular antagonistic, even though mclaine commented on their old age and the same-ness of the house. it seemed more like the dowager countess found martha’s frankness refreshing amidst a society that is always so prim and proper.

    Comment by cjeffery7 – June 25, 2012 11:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Believe me – they are just getting started – the kid gloves will be coming off. The American Revolution part 2 !

      Comment by Lillian Padula – June 25, 2012 11:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shirley MacLain is one of the last people I would have picked to play Cora’s mother. Her usual style is a little too “downtown.” But maybe she will surprise me.

    Comment by Larc – June 25, 2012 02:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • MacLain as Cora’s mother sounds interesting but really all I care about is Anna and Mr. Bates. He better get out of prison quick!!

    Comment by Amy – June 26, 2012 04:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Couldn’t be more excited about this show, Shirley MacLaine or not.

    Comment by Helen Mosbrook – June 26, 2012 06:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really don’t like S. MacLaine and season 2 of “Downton” was so full of plot holes I lost a great deal of interest in it. I’ll watch season 3 however, but probably won’t buy the DVD.

    Comment by Marian Librarian – June 26, 2012 11:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 2013?! Waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

    Comment by Moryssa – June 27, 2012 07:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Downton Abbey is television at its best. I love Brkitish tv and film and I also love they way they embrace their talented actors and actresses as they age. Hollywood could learn a lot from them.

    Comment by Sable – June 28, 2012 03:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree, this is what viewers wanted, and you delivered it PBS , Thank you , keep it up !!!

      Comment by danette – July 12, 2012 03:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t think Shirley MacLaine has enough class to play Cora’s mother. I think this
    character was really miscast.

    Comment by susieque – July 6, 2012 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can’t wait to see the new season!!!

    Comment by Carol – July 11, 2012 06:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I disagree , Miss McClaine’s presence will grace the drama from an American point of view, and her intelligence and quick wit will be very entertaining!

      Comment by danette – July 12, 2012 03:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anytime I read an update on Downton Abbey, it upsets me because we have to wait until 2013 for season 3. It’s agony waiting to see Maggie Smith and company. I simply love love Downton and wish everyone could work faster to get it back on. I want to know about Bates and Anna,

    Comment by Terry Martinez – July 11, 2012 07:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I wake up at night and consider their plight!

      Comment by lael – July 11, 2012 02:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shirley MacLaine has my complete confidence! I can think of no other actress that could pull it of quite like she can. Can’t wait!

    Comment by lael – July 11, 2012 02:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shirley McLaine is always a worthy opponent, but I will be so upset if Maggie Smith’s Violet assumes room temperature. She is hilarious and steals every scene she’s in! I wish her character could go on forever.

    Comment by Janet – July 16, 2012 05:11 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Felt very letdown by the way the engagement took place in last episode-no word of love nor anything even close to it. The British are cold fish but these two could have warmed up a little. Were these two talking of marriage or buying a car? Mr. Fellows should put on his thinking cap and give these two as much thought as the plots. I love the show but this was a complete downer.

    Comment by Alice McCully – July 17, 2012 10:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You confound me, madam. We should all be so lucky as to have someone look at us the way Matthew looks at Mary, in that scene or any other. Never mind that first kiss in season 1. Phfew. The British aren’t cold fish. They feel the same things we all do. The repression, if anything, makes their words and actions all the more intense. The slightest look indicates so much, especially during this time period. Matthew and Mary knew how they felt. Gotta say, it’s one of my favorite proposals on television.

      Comment by J.K. – July 21, 2012 07:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Nary a person could “one up” The Dowager Countess, she is the best !!

    Comment by Linda T. – July 21, 2012 08:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love the series…cannot wait for season. 3

    Comment by karen – October 6, 2012 01:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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