Shirley MacLaine Returning To 'Downton Abbey,' Kiri Te Kanawa Also Joining Cast
[bold]Shirley MacLaine Returning To 'Downton Abbey,' Kiri Te Kanawa Also Joining Cast[/bold]
By Frazier Moore (03.02.2013)
NEW YORK — Shirley MacLaine will be returning to "Downton Abbey" next season, and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa is joining the cast.
MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson, Lord Robert Crawley's freewheeling American mother-in-law, Carnival Films and "Masterpiece" on PBS said Saturday. MacLaine appeared in episodes early last season.
New Zealand-born soprano Te Kanawa will play a house guest. She will sing during her visit.
Other new cast members and characters include:
_ Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, described as an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party (and who might be the one to mend Lady Mary Crawley's broken heart).
_ Nigel Harman will play a valet named Green.
_ Harriet Walter plays Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess.
_ Joanna David will play a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil.
_ Julian Ovenden is cast as aristocrat Charles Blake.
"The addition of these characters can only mean more delicious drama, which is what `Downton Abbey' is all about," said "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton.
Meanwhile, the producers have confirmed that villainous housemaid Sarah O'Brien won't be back. Siobhan Finneran, who played her, is leaving the show.
These announcements come shortly after the third season's airing in the United States. It concluded with the heartbreaking death of popular Matthew Crawley in a car crash, leaving behind his newborn child and loving wife, Lady Mary Crawley.
Matthew's untimely demise was the result of the departure from the series by actor Dan Stevens, who had starred in that role.
The third season also saw the shocking death of Lady Sybil Branson, who died during childbirth. She was played by the departing Jessica Brown Findlay.
Last season the wildly popular melodrama, set in early 20th century Britain, was the most-watched series on PBS since Ken Burns' epic "The Civil War," which first aired in 1990. The Nielsen Co. said 8.2 million viewers saw the "Downton" season conclusion.
"Downton Abbey," which airs on the "Masterpiece" anthology, won three Emmy awards last fall, including a best supporting actress trophy for Maggie Smith (the Dowager Countess), who also won a Golden Globe in January.
In all, the series has won nine Emmys, two Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award for the ensemble cast, which is the first time the cast of a British television show has won this award.
Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle are among its other returning stars.
With all of these guest star appearances, DA is turning into "The Love Boat."
I thought Paul Giamatti was joining as Shirley MacLaine's brother. He has become to just annoy me as an actor.
However handsome Julian Ovenden is he does not look aristocratic at all.
Joanna David is a good stock character actress. As the typical English actor she has been in everything.
Kiri? Gosh, she was a horrendous actress in her day, can't wait to see this shit fest
[quote] Kiri? Gosh, she was a horrendous actress in her day, can't wait to see this shit fest
She's only in one episode..and she's playing Nellie Melba so it's not much of a stretch.
Ben Franklin is playing Shirley's son and Cora's brother, Harold.
I think it would be hilarious if he takes up with Thomas and Thomas winds up living the life of Riley as Cora's ersatz brother in law.
[quote]Ben Franklin is playing Shirley's son and Cora's brother, Harold.
I think you mean John Adams
[quote] MacLaine will reprise her role as Martha Levinson
Waste of time.
Either O'Brien or Thomas had to go. Their petty warfare between the two was escalating with no end in sight. There was nowhere to go with the two characters interacting this way, so one had to leave.
They've been redeeming the Thomas character for quite a few episodes.
I did, R29.... the funny looking history guy.
Harriet Walter was a great Harriet Vane in the Dorothy Sayers mystery series on PBS.
[bold] Dame Kiri to play real opera singer in Downton Abbey [/bold]
Opera legend Dame Kiri te Kanawa revealed that she is playing real-life Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba in Downton Abbey.
Dame Kiri is the first person to play a real person in the hit ITV series.
At the launch of the fourth series of Downton Abbey in London today, Dame Kiri said: "I was trying to stay true to the character because, as Julian [Fellowes, Downton creator] says, she's the one true living character to have appeared in the series."
Dame Kiri, 69, revealed she extensively researched Dame Nellia, who died in 1931. "I was very interested in her anyway. I reseearched how much she earned in a year. Her wage in one year was about £3million in today's money."
Dame Kiri caused a surprise at the Downton launch when she performed the two arias she sings in the series.
Tom Cullen is terrific.
I could happily do without that rancid old bag of bones Shirley MacLaine, however. In her "peak" years, she was a crap actress, but she's been even more insufferable for half a century or so. Ruins everything she touches.
I wish they would have gone with an Indian domestic as opposed to a black jazz singer. It would have been more realistic. American audiences would have a hard time comprehending that, though,and the whole thing is actually an American show.
Tom Cullen is fantastic and I'm excited to see his performance. Too bad he won't be doing the gay thing with Thomas...
Dame Kiri is the ultimate in stunt casting. I'm sure it will be delightfully execrable.