McGonagall and Musicals: Dame Maggie Smith Reflects on her Career

As she promotes her new film The Lady in the Van (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe), Dame Maggie Smith has been offering her fans some lovely interviews reflecting on her long and rich acting career. In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, she looks back at the beginning of her time on stage. She spoke about her first show, a musical comedy revue called New Faces of 1956 in New York. However, the experience wasn’t all that enjoyable:

I spent my entire time crying. We were paid so little. I didn’t know anyone then. I had been booked in a hotel I couldn’t afford! It was $60 a week.

From her musical days, where she says she felt “pigeon-holed,” she moved on to Shakespearian drama and then to her numerous other stage and film performances. In her newest film, The Lady in the Van, she plays Mary Shepard, “an elderly eccentric who lived in a dilapidated van in the driveway of playwright-actor Alan Bennett’s home in London for 15 years.” However, Smith is not sure how well the film will travel outside of England, saying it

may be too British for other countries. ‘I don’t think ‘Lady in the Van’ will travel,’ she said. ‘One of the reviews said, “I don’t think it will travel outside north London.” I think there is a bit of truth in that.’

The director of the film, Nicholas Hytner, seems to think Smith’s performance makes the film worth watching for all audiences:

It is a wealth of experience, extraordinary energy, imagination and experience.

In addition to her new film, Smith is also starring in the final season of the popular drama Downton Abbey as the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Despite the popularity of her character, Smith says she hasn’t seen the series at all!

Why do I want to see it? I’m doing it. I know the story of it. I do have the boxed set, but you know that would take me to the end of my life to watch.

Luckily, we are all still able to enjoy her magnificent performances!

Have you seen The Lady in the Van? Let us know in the comments!