Maggie Smith: “I think as actors you’re intimidated most of the time by everything you have to do”

maggie-smithNot many septuagenarians — soon to be octogenarians — actresses still work steadily in film and television, but Dame Maggie Smith is no normal actress.  Along with starring on the critically acclaimed Downton Abbey television series, she recently appeared in Quartet, Dustin Hoffman‘s directorial debut.  She spoke to The Wall Street Journal about working on both projects.

Because of her lengthy, award-winning career and the characters she has played — particularly the one on Downton Abbey –Smith has been thought to be an intimidating actress to work with.  However, Smith confesses that as an actor she feels intimidated all the time, explaining, “I think as actors you’re intimidated most of the time by everything you have to do. It’s not straightforward. It’s all meant to look as natural as anything—you don’t know that we’re terrified. That was the joy of having Dustin as a director. He’s an actor, he knows the long waits and how difficult it is to keep it going. He just understands all of that, and that was a huge relief for all of us.”

Two key actors — Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens — departed Downton Abbey during last season, though Smith has no plans to leave.  However, she points out that the nature of the series’ production in England means that the cast signed contracts that were shorter than their American counterparts.  She says, “Well, you know, there’s a world elsewhere, I guess, if you have the chance. I think Hollywood was for Jessica. It makes total sense for them. It’s a pity that it happens, but here they don’t take your life. I believe in America you have to sign sort of forever, don’t you?”

One thing that Smith remains proud of is that despite recently turning seventy-eight she has no trouble learning her lines.  In fact, she seems to have disdain for actors who use earpieces to help with the dialogue, saying, “Touching wood, that hasn’t happened yet. That’s a pretty horrible thought. People now do it with those things stuck in their ears.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/audition-tapes-gerard-butler-aud.jpg
Audition Tapes: Gerard Butler Auditions for ‘Dracula 2000′
Check out Gerard Butler auditioning for the role of Dracula in the movie, Dracula 2000. The film, about a group of thieves who break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead find Dracula himself, also starred Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller and Nathan Fillion. Bulter has some sweet rock star hair, huh?   [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-matt-dillon-and-carla.jpg
Interview: Matt Dillon and Carla Gugino Talk ‘Wayward Pines’
FOX has a new limited-series that’s got a terrific cast and interesting premise. It’s called Wayward Pines and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Terrance Howard, Juliette Lewis, Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon. The show, whose pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is about a Secret Service agent (Dillon) goes to [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-wayward-pines-stars-ti.jpg
Interview: ‘Wayward Pines’ Stars Tim Griffin and Shannyn Sossamon on the Show, Their Characters and More!
Griffin and Sossamonwere at Comic-Con where they sat in on some roundtable interviews to talk about the show.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-m-night-shyamalan-talk.jpg
Interview: M. Night Shyamalan Talks ‘Wayward Pines’ and Why He Expanded a Young Actors Role on the Show
I talked to Shyamalan at Comic-Con in a roundtable interview where he talked about the cast, what he learned from working in TV and how young actor Charlie Tahan started out with a small part but as the story grew, so did his role.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/interview-wayward-pines-producer.jpg
Interview: ‘Wayward Pines’ Producers and Writer Talk Casting and the 10-Episode Format
FOX’s upcoming limited series Wayward Pines looks very cool. The show is supposed to be very Twin Peaks-ish in tone which, just hearing that, definitely sparks my interest. The pilot was directed by M. Night Shyamalan and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Terrance Howard and Juliette Lewis and is about a [...]