Maggie Smith has been and remains one of the most prominent actresses in Hollywood. This reputation follows a career span of over six decades that saw a young Maggie Smith wield a humble beginning.
When it comes to a career in the spotlight, it is quite difficult but not impossible to have a breakthrough moment. And for Hollywood classic actor Dame Maggie Smith, her Hollywood fame was a gradual progression, with myriads of achievements leading up to the top.
Nonetheless, that does not lessen the potency of her relevance in the film industry. Smith, now way in her eighties, still appears in movies and does not seem to be pausing just yet. Here’s her journey through Hollywood.
Dame Smith’s Career Beginnings
Born to a Scottish mom and an English dad, Smith grew up in Essex. Hers was a moderate family, with her Oxford University teacher, father, and a mom who worked as a secretary.
Despite her parents’ administrative roots, Smith decided acting was her calling. She began her career in the 1950s at the Oxford Playhouse. The young Maggie Smith made her film debut in 1966’s “Child in the House” starring as one of the party guests.
Smith’s career build-up included appearances in 50s movies like “Othello” “Richard III,” “California Suite” with Jane Fonda and Michael Caine, “Mussolini,” alongside Judi Dench, and “Gosford Park.”
In 1969, the “A Boy Called Christmas” actress starred in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” and won the first of two Oscars. Her second Oscar came in 1978 for her part in “California Suite.”
The 87-year-old had another notable role in the 1990s when she starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act 1 & 2.” Smith played the Reverend mother whose character development went from antagonistic to sympathetic.
Her Fame in the 2010s
Smith maintained her aristocratic roles in films, and it almost seemed like she was typecast. But when the “Harry Potter” series came along in 2001, Dame Smith’s years of hard work paid off better than it did as a young actress.
The “Harry Potter” franchise was very successful, with Smith playing the regal Professor McGonagall. The star actress’ role as a professor at the fictional Hogwarts was an adaptation of the iconic book series written by J.K Rowling.
At the tail-end of her Harry Potter stint, Smith bagged the role of the distinguished Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley on “Downton Abbey.” The series spanned five years, from 2010 t0 2015.
Maggie Smith’s Reflections On Her Career
Once speaking about her career in 2017, Smith reflected on her beginnings, what was applicable in her prime, and how the movie industry evolved in women’s acting careers.
The multiple award-winner praised the new age actresses noting that she thought they were brave. Smith shared that younger actresses were now required to “do the most extraordinary things.”
A young Maggie Smith made her professional debut at the age of 17, but according to her now-older self, she thought she could not possibly pull through if she started as a new-age actress. She shared:
“If I was asked to start now, I just don’t think I could, seriously. It’s difficult to imagine myself at that age because girls are starting even younger than I was [when I started]. I think it’s very, very, very hard now.”
It is safe to say that Smith’s formidable stance in her roles could make her qualified to ace new-age roles. But she stated that she owed it all to her persistence.
The “Nanny McPhee Returns” actress stated that she could sometimes be perceived as difficult, and she was aware. However, this is borne out of her fear of not delivering expert performances.
During a “60 Minutes” interview in 2013, Smith relayed that her fame did not affect her feelings. She explained that fame had not always been the goal, and she was “not quite sure what being a star means.”
Another thing the actress pointed out was her gratitude for the success of the “Harry Potter” franchise and “Downton Abbey.” Since gaining more prominence in the 2000s and 2010s, Smith has won BAFTA awards, Tony, SAG accolades, and six Oscar nominations altogether.