Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine has joined the cast of Downton Abbey, Variety reports.

The Oscar winner will play Martha Levinson, Lady Grantham's mother, in the third season, which begins filming next month.

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"My late grandfather [Ronald Neame] directed Shirley MacLaine in Gambit in 1966 so it is a delight for me that she will be joining us on Downton Abbey," producer Gareth Neame said. "Julian [Fellowes] has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess and we are excited at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her."

The gig marks MacLaine's first regular TV series role since her dramedy series Shirley's World, which lasted one season (1971-72).

Season 2 of Downton Abbey is currently airing on PBS stateside. Season 3 will premiere on ITV in the U.K. in September.