After six incredible series, ITV's Sunday night staple Downton Abbey is coming to a close for good but one cast member in particular is thrilled to be finally having a break. Although she will miss the period drama immensely, Dame Maggie Smith admits that she is ready for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
The 80-year-old will appear as Dowager Countess Violet Crawley for the final time in the upcoming series six, having played the acid-tongued matriarch since 2010. It is an emotional time for the cast and crew who are having to wave goodbye to the iconic Highclere Castle in Berkshire but it is perfect timing for screen queen Smith, who has joked that she is simply relieved to have made it to the end of the series.
Speaking to the IBTimes UK and other reporters at a screening of the sixth series' first episode at The Mayfair hotel in London, Smith said: "I'm just surprised I got to the end! Just before this, which was six years ago, I'd done about 10 years with Harry Potter so I felt very old indeed by the time I got to Downton. I'm honestly just surprised that I got through it."
Watch a compilation of Dowager Countess Violet's best one-liners:
Before joining the cast of Downton, which is created by Julian Fellowes, the Oscar-winning actress appeared in all seven Harry Potter movies with the final installment in the franchise released in 2011. When asked what she plans on doing next now that Downton has wrapped up, Smith quipped: "I'm going to be lying down," before adding: "The other thing I'll be doing it is watching it, I'll get the box set and have a good look. I certainly haven't watched anything that I've done and I have seen some of it, but I want to sit down and look at it all."
The Gosford Park actress plays one of the show's most beloved characters, mostly thanks to her witty one-liners, although, Smith is quick to point out that she cannot take credit for the put-downs, stating that each one has been the craft of Fellowes. Her portrayal as the no-nonsense countess is so accurate that some have questioned whether Smith has partly based the character of herself. Discussing the similarities, the actress joked at the press conference: "Oh, yes. I'm like that all the time, every single moment. I never let up."
Downton Abbey will return to ITV in the UK September 2015.