Fresh on the heels of one of the all-time greats of the acting world (Dame Judi Dench) turning 80 earlier this month on December 9, we now have the brilliant opportunity to celebrate another ‘Dame’ as she turns 80 today – Dame Maggie Smith. Although she has achieved worldwide recognition from her portrayal of Professor Minerva McGonagall in 7 of the 8 Harry Potter films, the 6-time nominated, 2-time Oscar winning (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, California Suite) actress is, perhaps, best known in recent years for her spot-on portrayal of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey.
Like her fellow octogenarian Dame, she has no plans on slowing down and putting her feet up any time soon. Having just completed her 5th season on Downton Abbey and having signed up for a 6th series, her 2015 workload doesn’t look to be getting lighter with the forthcoming releases of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, starring opposite James Corden, Jim Broadbent, Dominic Cooper and Frances de la Tour.
Harry Potter and Downton Abbey roles aside, Dame Maggie Smith began her acting career at the age of 17 playing Viola in Twelfth Night at the Oxford Playhouse. From that moment, there was no looking back from that original 1952 performance with countless live stage performances mixed in with the too numerous to mention small and big screen appearances during her 60+ year career.
Appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1970, she was raised to Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1990 New Year Honours, and then made a Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) for services to drama in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours. Her two Oscars have to fight for space on her awards shelf with 5 BAFTA’s, 3 Emmy’s, 3 Golden Globes, 5 Evening Standard Theatre Awards, 2 Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) awards, and 1 Tony Award. Dame Maggie is also one of only a handful of actors/actresses to have won the ‘Triple Crown of Acting”, winning a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award. Only 12 have achieved the Grand Slam of Acting by adding a Grammy to their collection. Now, if only Julian Fellowes can just convince her to sing the theme to Downton Abbey for series 6, I think she might have a shot. What do you think?