‘Downton Abbey’ Star Hugh Bonneville Calls His Castmate Maggie Smith ‘Absolute Steel’

The Downton Abbey movie was a treat for fans who missed their favorite characters from the 6-season series. Maggie Smith — known to Downton fans as the Dowager Countess of Grantham — was initially reluctant to do the movie. But her fellow castmate Hugh Bonneville — AKA Lord Grantham — believes Smith completely dominated the Downton Abbey movie.

The Dowager Countess had the best lines in the 2019 ‘Downton Abbey’ movie

Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey | PBS

In an interview with Downton Abbey cast member, Hugh Bonneville told SAGA that one actor in particular from the 2019 movie got all the “best lines.” It was Maggie Smith, of course.

“And if she hasn’t, then she makes them into the best lines,” Bonneville added. The Downton Abbey star called his fellow castmate a “formidable actress.”

“When you are in a room with her you think, this woman is in her 80s,” Bonneville remembers about seeing Smith on the set of the film. It made him want to ask, “Is she okay?” — though Bonneville clarified that she had been sick before they began shooting the movie.

“Yet there is absolute steel in her,” he said.

Bonneville also believes his Downton Abbey co-star is on par with the likes of great women in the field.

“Dame Judi Dench is the same, so is Joan Plowright and Eileen Atkins,” he explained. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with them all.”

‘Downton Abbey’ iconic cast member Maggie Smith didn’t even want to do the film when the talks first began

Downton Abbey cast
Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery on set with Downton Abbey | Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

RELATED: Will Maggie Smith Return for ‘Downtown Abbey’ Movie Sequel? One of Her Co-Stars Weighs In

It’s a tiny bit ironic that Smith apparently got the movie’s “best lines” when she barely wanted to do the Downton Abbey in the first place. Smith originally told British Film Institute her honest thoughts on a movie:

I just think it’s squeezing it dry, do you know what I mean? I don’t know what it could possibly be. It was so meandering, what would you [do]? Anyway, that’s not my problem. That’s the Lord’s problem.”

By the Lord, Smith was referring to Fellowes. But it wasn’t just about the storyline of the show — her character was aging a bit.

“I could croak it, and it would just start with my body,” Smith snarked. “But I don’t know.”

Bonneville is just happy that all of the characters ‘turned up to play’

Still, the most important part to Bonneville was the fact that in the end, all the Downton Abbey cast members did show up for the movie.

“The biggest testament to the film is that everyone turned up to play,” Bonneville told Parade. “We had some hurdles getting everyone in the same place at the same time, but there was a will to do it.”

Gareth Neame, an executive producer on Downton Abbey acknowledged Smith’s reluctance to re-join the Downton gang.

“I suspect in a lot of ways, Maggie missed working with the other actors,” he explained. “When she was completely sure everyone was going to do it and it was happening, then she was on board.”