Dame Maggie Smith is reportedly leaving Downton Abbey after the hit PBS show's upcoming third season, according to The Daily Mail.
The Oscar winner, 77, has asked to leave the show and her character, fan favorite the Dowager Countess, will be written out. A source tells the newspaper that Smith is leaving because she wants to end on a high note and wants room to do theater and film projects. The source says that Smith will stay on for all of Season 3 and the subsequent Christmas special. Season 3 is filming now in England and is set to premiere in the fall.
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Downton boss Julian Fellowes has not yet completed Dowager Countess' storyline, but the source says that her character will likely come down with a fatal illness. Executive producer Rebecca Eaton told the Orlando Sentinel earlier this month that someone "pretty key in the cast" will die in Season 3, which will also see the introduction of new cast member Shirley MacLaine.
A spokesman for the show refused to confirm The Daily Mail's report. "Carnival Films don't ever comment on future story lines."
In addition to Smith, The Daily Mail reports that Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, has yet to renew his contract.
Would you be sad to see the Dowager Countess go? Do you think she could get killed off?