If You Miss Downton Abbey: More From Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern

Posted on March 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Copyright PBS 2015
Copyright PBS 2015

“Downton Abbey’s” season is ending and it will be months before we get new episodes. Now might be a good time to check out some of the other roles played by your favorite Downton-ites.

Maggie Smith (the Dowager Countess) may not have hit superstardom until she was in her 70’s, but before that she had a long and highly successful career that included two Oscars. In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie she plays a fiercely independent but free-spirited teacher whose efforts to have her students live out her fantasies results in tragedy. In California Suite ensemble comedy from Neil Simon, she was heartbreaking as a movie star herself up for an Oscar, escorted by her husband, a man she loves and who loves her, but who is gay in an era where he could not be honest about it. I also love her in Room With a View as the spinster aunt who does not see much but who can tell everyone sees her as fussy and in the way, in The VIPs as the loyal secretary who saves the day for the boss she secretly loves, and in Travels With My Aunt, a wild story based on the book by Graham Greene.

Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) has a central role in one of the cleverest comedies of all time, three plays known as The Norman Conquests. They all take place at the same time, one in the living room, one in the garden, and one in the dining, so an entrance in one of them is an exit in another. She co-starred with Helen Mirren in Calendar Girls (based on the true story of a group of middle-aged women who pose nude for a fundraising calendar) and with Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel.

Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) stars opposite a Peruvian bear in the popular 2015 release Paddington. You can also find him as Hugh Grant’s inept and awkward friend in Notting Hill, as the foolish Mr. Rushworth in Mansfield Park, and as the unfortunate M. Bovary in Madame Bovary.

Elizabeth McGovern (Countess of Grantham) appeared in the Oscar-winning Ordinary People as a high school student and romantic interest for the main character played by Timothy Hutton. She was touching and funny in Ragtime as real-life performer Evelyn Nesbit, whose wealthy young husband shot and killed her lover, the renowned architect Stanford White. In Clover she played the white widow of a black man, fighting his family for custody of his daughter.

Also: Allen Leech (Tom Branson) is in The Imitation Game Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) is in Secrets and Lies, Richard E. Grant (Simon Ricker) is in Withnail and I and The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Lily James (Lady Rose) is in this week’s live action “Cinderella.”

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