Entertainment & Arts

Shirley MacLaine: Hollywood 'ignores older viewers'

Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine plays Martha Levinson in the next series of Downton Abbey

Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine has criticised Hollywood for failing to make enough films for older people.

The 78-year-old star said she was now "in sync with an audience of senior citizens, and am making four pictures for them this year".

"They have no movies made for them. How many times can you see Batman?" she said during a Radio Times interview.

"Things are done according to money these days. Movie makers now choose profit over vision."

MacLaine was speaking after joining the cast ITV1's hit drama Downton Abbey, which returns for a third series in the autumn.

She will play Martha Levinson, the American mother of Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, who visits Britain in 1920 to attend the wedding of her granddaughter, Lady Mary, to Matthew Crawley.

Producers of the show have described Martha as "a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess".

Despite having not heard of the show when she was asked to play Martha, MacLaine revealed she quickly became hooked.

Winning formula

"I got so interested I dropped out of sight for a couple of weeks watching every show," she said.

"It's so brilliant. Julian Fellowes has somehow hit on a formula of giving the right amount of characters the right amount of screen time in an internet age where there is just too much information."

Downton Abbey has been nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, which are due to be handed out in Los Angeles on 23 September.

MacLaine denied that she was brought into the lineup to pander to audiences in the US.

"It's not pandering. I'm a volleyball partner for (Dame) Maggie (Smith). Who else would they get? Let me think: Anthony Hopkins in drag," she said.

"I'm the same class as Maggie's character because we're both wealthy, but I confront her because I'm more involved with change."

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