Where You’ve Seen Her Before: Dame Maggie Smith (the Early Years)

Posted on January 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

Copyright The Telegraph 2014
Copyright The Telegraph 2014
Maggie Smith gives another beautifully complex performance this week as “The Lady in the Van,” based on the real-life story of a mentally ill woman who parked her van “temporarily” in the driveway of writer Alan Bennett and stayed for 15 years. She is best known now as the acerbic Dowager Duchess on “Downton Abbey” and as astringent Professor McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” films. But she is a two-time Oscar winner with a remarkable range of roles and everything she does is worth watching.

I love her as the devoted secretary “Miss Mead,” in the all-star soapy drama about wealthy and powerful people stuck at an airport, “The VIPs.” She was in love with her boss, played by Rod Taylor.

And she appeared with Taylor again in “Young Cassidy.”

She is the flamboyant title character in the madcap road trip caper “Travels with My Aunt.”

She won an Oscar as the headstrong, domineering, and misguided teacher in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”

And another for “California Suite,” where she played an Oscar-nominated British actress married to — and in love with — her gay husband, played by Michael Caine.

She played another aunt in “A Room with a View.”

I was lucky enough to see her twice on stage, in “Private Lives” and “Lettice and Lovage.” She was incandescent.

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