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Your email address will not be published.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/2014/04/wondercon-bill-paxton-talks-edge.jpg
WonderCon: Bill Paxton Talks ‘Edge of Tomorrow’, Working with Tom Cruise and More! (video)
Bill Paxton came to WonderCon to talk-up his new film, Edge of Tomorrow. They showed some clips from the Doug Liman directed film and the more I see, the more I think I”m going to like it. The film, which stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Paxton, is about a soldier fighting in a war [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/tatiana-maslany-jordan-gavaris-t.jpg
Tatiana Maslany & Jordan Gavaris Talk ‘Orphan Black’ with the SAG Foundation
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhHMcuQhjGE] BBC America’s Orphan Black returned for its second season this weekend and from what I’ve heard, the show comes back in fine form. The series is about Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), who’s in a desperate race to find her missing daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler). She becomes involved in a wild pursuit that brings her [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/director-david-gordon-greene-nar.jpg
Director David Gordon Green Narrates a Scene From ‘Joe’
Director David Gordon Green narrates a sequence from his new film, Joe, featuring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. In the video, he mentions his reasons why he likes to hire non-traditional actors. He likes people who have real skill-sets and not actors who have the skills on their resume. He also talked about this in [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/david-gordon-green-joe.jpg
Director David Gordon Green: “I find actors in unusual places”
I keep missing screenings of director David Gordon Greene‘s new film, Joe. I hear it’s really good so I’m looking forward to catching it at some point. Joe stars Nicholas Cage as ex-con Joe Ransom, who isn’t the greatest of role models until he meets a 15-year-old boy (Mud‘s Tye Sheridan). In this featurette, Green [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/judy-greer-i-dont-know-why-you-know-me-from.jpg
Please Don’t Say These Things To Judy Greer (video)
Judy Greer - who we love here at Daily Actor – has a new book called, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From (Confessions of a Co-Star), a series of essays about her life as an actress, friend and someone who everyone thinks they might know. Here’s a blurb about the book: “Want to [...]