Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

MacLaine 'berates' Downton bad boy

Martha Levinson, played by Shirley MacLaine, arrives at Downton Abbey to meet the family and staff

Shirley MacLaine stunned Downton Abbey bad boy Rob James-Collier by pouncing on him the minute she arrived on set.

When the Hollywood legend first met all the cast she made a beeline for Rob - only to give him a piece of her mind about footman Thomas's bad behaviour.

Shirley has joined the cast of the hit ITV show as Martha Levinson, the wealthy mother of Lady Grantham.

Rob revealed: "It was a completely surreal experience. On the first day the staff are greeting her outside the front of the house. And at the rehearsals she got out the car, this Hollywood icon, and she was kind of looking for someone. And everyone was there, the entire cast, and she went 'It's you!' pointing at me.

"And I did the classic 'She can't be talking to me', looked behind me but it's just hedges there, and I thought 'She can't be talking to the bush!'

"She came over to me and she's like 'The evil one! Why are you so evil?!' And I was like 'Hello Shirley, nice to meet you, I'm Rob, how you doing?' and she was like 'Never mind that, why are you so evil?!'.

"She was a massive fan of the show, so it was great to see. She had no airs or graces. She was just quizzing us about our characters.

"The fact that she even knew who I was was just a bonus."

Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith Crawley, confessed she and Michelle Dockery and Jessica Brown Findlay had to be reminded to act more natural around Shirley.

Laura said: "When she arrived we had to be told by our director to not look so in awe - she's our grandmother. Me and Michelle and Jess were all stood there with our mouths open."

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