Maggie Smith may be unable to reprise her role in the Downton Abbey sequel due to fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 85-year-old actress has played the role of Dowager Countess Lady Violet of Grantham since the British TV series began in 2010, and reprised the character for the highly-anticipated big screen spin-off, which was released last year.
Maggie was reportedly in negotiations to portray the matriarch for the planned sequel, but producers fear that she won’t be allowed back on set due to the coronavirus outbreak, British newspaper The Sun reports.
A source from film studio Focus Features told the publication that the possibility of Maggie returning have now been dashed, as the veteran actress is at risk of contracting the respiratory disease.
“Before lockdown, the hope was that Dame Maggie was considering a return for the sequel,” the insider said. “There was a genuine feeling that even having her return for just a flashback would leave fans delighted.
“She has been the spirit and heart of the Downton project for years so it will be really sad if they can’t make it work.”
Last year’s movie, which concluded with Lady Violet not having long to live, raked in more than $192 million (£153 million) at the box office. It also featured the TV show’s much-loved stars, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter and Joanne Froggatt.
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