For her swansong as the acerbic Dowager Countess with a caring heart underneath all that period garb, Maggie Smith won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy tonight. This is the third time Smith has taken the statue for Downton Abbey, and the fifth time she was nominated for what has become an iconic role. This makes it four Emmys overall for the two-time Oscar winner.
Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel took great pains to point out early in the show, however, that this was Smith’s ninth nomination and the ninth time she is not at the ceremony. Calling her “Downton absent,” he wondered, “What is wrong with us? Why do we keep nominating this woman?” He didn’t let up, ribbing, “Lame Maggie Smith, if you want an Emmy, you better hop on a plane right now and get your Dowager Count-ass over here.” When Smith ultimately did win, Kimmel stepped in, grabbed the trophy and said, “If you want this, it will be in the lost and found.”
Downton bid farewell this year after six seasons of upstairs and downstairs drama for the Crawley family and their servants. The Julian Fellowes-created series revitalized the period drama, updating it for modern TV audiences and becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
It also made stars out of a large ensemble cast. Smith, a veteran and two-time Oscar winner was already a highly-respected actress before Downton began, but the series brought her to the masses. Her turn as Violet Crawley was marked by Fellowes-penned quips that have now become part of the vernacular (“What is a weekend?”). The Dowager could be equally as powerful when silent (one can only imagine the eyebrow she’d raise to Kimmel’s jabs tonight).
Ultimately, it was Smith’s Violet who had the last word on Downton, closing out the series finale. When onetime enemy and now friend for life Isobel Crawley said, “We’re going towards the future, not back to the past,” Violet responded, “If only we had a choice.” There may still be a future as talk of a Downton movie has not slowed since the series ended.
In total through Downton‘s run, it racked up 69 nominations and now has 13 wins.