Downton Abbey has just returned to television for its final season, and Maggie Smith is one of six actors nominated by the Screen Actors Guild in the category of “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series” for her performance as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.
During her career she has played countless incredible roles on stage, television and film. In addition to Downton Abbey, we've enjoyed her acting in the Harry Potter series, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, California Suite, and so many others. She is one of only six actresses who have won Oscars in BOTH Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Although I love ALL the characters on Downton, the Dowager Countess is the one I'm going to miss the most. She delivers some of the show's most hilarious lines – but often full of wisdom and truth - with a dry and caustic wit. Sage, manipulative, and so very, very determined – I've often found myself wishing I could ask her for advice in my own life!
And so – as we sit down to enjoy Downton Abbey for one final, glorious season - here is some of the best wit and wisdom of Dowager Countess Violet Grantham.
1. [when a couple is unhappily married] "Well, in those moments, a couple is 'unable to see as much of each other as they would like."
2. [on going behind a husband's back] "That is a scruple no successful wife can afford."
3. [on Sybil being entitled to her own opinions] "No! She isn’t until she is married. Then her husband will tell her what her opinions are."
4. "I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there."
5. "In my day, a lady was incapable of feeling physical attraction until she had been instructed to do so by her mama."
6. “Every woman goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.”
7. "I know several couples who are perfectly happy. Haven't spoken in years."
8. Isobel: “Were you a very involved mother?”
Violet: “Does it surprise you?”
Isobel: "I'd imagined them surrounded by nannies and governesses, being starched and ironed to spend an hour with you after tea."
Violet: "Yes, but it was an hour *every day*."
9. [on jazz] "Do you think that any of them know what the others are playing?"
10. [on cocktails] "They look far too exciting for so early in the evening."
11. "I couldn't have electricity in the house, I wouldn't sleep a wink. All those vapors floating about."
12. "First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H.G. Wells novel."
13. [on servants being humans] "Yes, but preferably only on their days off."
14. "Typical Spratt. He's as touchy as a beauty losing her looks."
15. "We all pander to Spratt in this house."
16. "I hope your standards are not so high as to prevent you from remaining in my employment."
17. "Spratt, I think Dr Clarkson would like some coffee... and don't be such a snob. "
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