'Downton Abbey': Shirley MacLaine cast as Lady Cora's mother

shirley-maclaine-downton-ab.jpgThe Granthams are in for some new faces at "Downton Abbey" for Season 3 and one of them is Academy Award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine, according to a press release. Star Elizabeth McGovern had previously told the U.K.'s Sun newspaper that Season 3 would see some of her American relatives coming to Downton and now we know that one of them is her mother, Martha Levinson, played by MacLaine.

"My late grandfather directed Shirley MacLaine in 'Gambit' in 1966 so it is a delight for me that she will be joining us on 'Downton Abbey,' says executive producer Gareth Neame, in a statement. "Julian has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess and we are excited at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her."

"It is so exciting to have an actress of Shirley MacLaine's stature joining our brilliant 'Downton Abbey' cast for series three and a tribute to the show's success on both sides of the Atlantic," adds Laura Mackie, director of drama at ITV.

How thrilling, as Lady Violet would say. We wonder what other relatives of Lady Cora's might be paying a call. We hope she has a sister - we've always loved the dynamic of the three Crawley sisters.

Oh, and McGovern has also teased there will be two weddings. Whose do you think it will be?

"Downton Abbey" is currently airing its second season on PBS Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The third season will air in Britain in the fall of 2012 and in the winter of 2013 in the U.S.

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