Downton Abbey PBS

The cast of Downton Abbey are in for a treat when they begin production on their third season now that Academy Award winner, Shirley MacLaine, has joined the period drama. If I were one of the current cast members, I would be beside myself with glee, occasionally falling in to fits of giggles the likes of which would cause anybody within my vicinity to suffer a similar case of joy. I’m not saying the cast isn’t good at what they do, we all know they are, but MacLaine has so much experience to share with them. It’s a terrific opportunity for everyone involved.

The Daily Beast reports MacLaine will play the role of Martha Levinson, a new character who will be the mother of the American-born Lady Grantha (Elizabeth McGovern). She will surely add a little extra something to proceedings while not overshadowing the already established characters. While the second season is currently set to wrap on Feb. 19th, the third season’s principle photography is ready to begin next month, with a premiere on ITV in the U.K. set to air in the fall of this year. The third season will air on PBS’s Masterpiece Classic early next year.

Here’s a fun fact you may not have known: Downton Abbey’s executive producer, Gareth Neame, has a small connection to Shirley MacLaine. His grandfather directed her in the 1966 film, Gambit. Now she’s working with him. That’s kind of nice, isn’t it? What, you don’t care? Well, I thought it was nice…