Ahead Of A New Era, Downton Abbey Creator Opens Up About Casting Maggie Smith As The Dowager Countess And Why That Was Such A Huge Win

In the world of Downton Abbey, it’s hard not to imagine the Dowager Countess sitting squarely at the center of creator Julian Fellowes’ fictional universe. That’s not to downplay the importance of the spectacular cast that makes up the rest of the roster, but Dame Maggie Smith is clearly a fan favorite. Ahead of Downton Abbey: A New Era’s debut on the schedule of 2022 movie releases, the man behind the matriarch opened up about why Smith’s casting was such a coup for the series that started it all.

In the first of several fireside chats that Julian Fellowes will be having with other Downton cast members, the man himself spoke with Hugh Bonneville about that very subject. Here’s how Fellowes explained this notion in a video released by Focus Features

Oh, I think we knew we were going to sink or swim on the basis of the cast we could attract. I think we knew that there were certain parts that would be our starting point. You know, Violet Grantham, was pretty early, because if we could attract Maggie [Smith] into doing her first open-ended series, I mean she’d done some terribly smart television with [Stephen] Poliakoff and that kind of thing, but she’d never done a popular series that just went on and on and on. Of course she was marvelous and she came on board. And then by the time you’d come on board, you just started to get this feeling, this is a show people want to be in.

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