Pop Culture

'Downton Abbey' role leaves Maggie Smith a nervous 'lump of jelly'

She may be known as the snarky, determined matriarch on "Downton Abbey," but Maggie Smith, the veteran actress behind the oh-so-quotable Dowager Countess, isn't quite as tough in real life.

In fact, as she revealed in an interview that aired on TODAY Thursday morning, playing the instantly-iconic character leaves her downright nervous.

"Inside, it's a lump of jelly," Smith told NBC News correspondent Michelle Kosinski. "(I'm) thinking, 'If I don't get this speech right, I'm really done for.'"

Still, Smith soldiers through it all. But for how much longer? Fans who can't imagine "Downton Abbey" without the Dowager Countess might have to adjust to the idea -- someday.

"She's got to drop down dead at some point, 'cause I must be about 110, logically, in the thing," Smith warned. "So I don't know what's going to happen."

Of course, given that Smith herself is only 78, the Dowager could just keep racking up the years.

Catch more from Smith when her film, "Quartet," opens in wide release Friday.

Are you surprised to learn that Smith gets nervous on the set of "Downton"? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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