Maggie Smith

Last updated on the 1 July 2024 by Maeve

Maggie Smith headshot

Mini Biography

Born 28 December, 1934, Ilford, Essex, England. 

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie
Maggie Smith in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie

Maggie Smith began her acting career in the 1950s and quickly became a prominent figure in British theatre. In 1960, she made her film debut in “Nowhere to Go” and went on to star in several successful films, including “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1969), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Maggie Smith continued to work in both theatre and film throughout the 1970s and 1980s, earning critical acclaim for her performances in “Travels with My Aunt” (1972), “California Suite” (1978), and “A Room with a View” (1985). In 1992, she starred in the film adaptation of the play “Sister Act” and its sequel, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.”

Professor Minerva McGonagall portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith.
Professor Minerva McGonagall portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith

In 2001, Smith took on the role of Professor Minerva McGonagall in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, a role she would reprise in all eight films. Her portrayal of the stern yet caring professor earned her widespread recognition and cemented her status as a beloved icon of British cinema.

Smith has also continued to work in theatre, winning a Tony Award for her performance in “Lettice and Lovage” in 1990 and receiving critical acclaim for her performances in “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1993) and “The Lady in the Van” (1999).


Maggie Smith Downton Abbey
Violet Crawley,
Dowager Countess of Grantham

Maggie Smith brought life to one of the most beloved characters on Downton Abbey (2010), Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. The role became a signature part for Smith, winning her critical acclaim and numerous awards including three Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.

Throughout her career, Maggie Smith has been recognised for her talent and contributions to the arts, receiving numerous awards and honours, including a DBE in 1990 and a Companion of Honour in 2014. She remains one of the most respected and beloved actresses of her generation and her legacy continues to inspire and influence generations of performers.


BAFTA award

WINNER|Film: Actress for The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1970) | Film: Actress for A Private Function (1985) | Film: Actress in a Leading Role for A Room With A View (1989) | Film:  Actress in a Leading Role for The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne (1989) | Film: Actress in a Supporting Role in for Tea With Mussolini (2000) 


Oscar award


WINNER|Best Actress for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1970) | Best Supporting Actress for California Suite (1979) 



Suggested viewing


The Miracle Club (2023)

The Miracle Club poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.4

A group of working-class women in 1960s Dublin dream of escaping their routines and burdens by winning a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Through a twist of fate and their own determination, they embark on a journey seeking personal miracles, friendship, and a taste of freedom.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Laura LinneyKathy Bates, Agnes O’Casey, Stephen Rea, Mark O’Halloran, Eric D. Smith, Mark McKenna, Niall Buggy, Hazel Doupe.


The Missionary (1982)

The Missionary poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.2

A wide-eyed missionary returning from Africa is tasked with helping London’s downtrodden prostitutes. His unconventional methods, fuelled by a misunderstanding and a wealthy patroness’s desires, lead to situations that challenge his faith and perceptions of morality.

Top cast: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Trevor Howard, Denholm Elliott, Graham Crowden, Phoebe Nicholls, David Suchet.


Ladies in Lavender (2004)

Ladies in Lavender poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

Two elderly sisters living on the coast discover a mysterious young man washed ashore. Taking him in, they find their quiet lives transformed by his presence, stirring up emotions and introducing a touch of the unexpected to their routines.

Top cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl, Freddie Jones, Gregor Henderson-Begg, Miriam Margolyes, David Warner, Clive Russell, Richard Pears, Natascha McElhone, Toby Jones.


The Lady in the Van (2015)

The Lady in the Van poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 6.7

“The Lady in the Van” is a heartwarming and quirky film based on a true story. It revolves around the relationship between playwright Alan Bennett and Miss Shepherd, an eccentric and homeless woman who parks her van in his driveway and ends up staying there for 15 years. The story explores compassion, friendship and the power of human connection.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Frances de la Tour, Gwen Taylor, Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Roger Allam, Samuel Anderson, Dermot Crowley.


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.6

“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” is based on the novel by Muriel Spark. Set in 1930s Edinburgh, it follows the unconventional and charismatic schoolteacher, Miss Jean Brodie, and her influence on a group of girls known as the Brodie set. The story explores themes of manipulation, loyalty and the consequences of unorthodox education methods.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Robert Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Celia Johnson, Gordon Jackson, Diane Grayson, Jane Carr, Shirley Steedman, Ann Way.

Alternative version

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie poster


A Room With A View (1987)

A Room With A View

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.2

“A Room With A View”, based on the novel by E.M. Forster, is a enthralling tale of Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman. While traveling in Italy, she becomes torn between societal expectations and her true desires when she encounters the charming George Emerson. Through beautiful dialogue, the film explores love, class and the struggle for personal freedom.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands, Simon Callow, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, Rupert Graves.


Downton Abbey (2010)

Downton Abbey poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.7

“Downton Abbey” is a engrossing period drama series set in early 20th century England. It follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their devoted servants at the fictional Downton Abbey estate. The story explores the intertwining lives of the upstairs and downstairs characters, delving into themes of love, class and societal change.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle.

Similar to

Upstairs Downstairs poster


Gosford Park (2002)

Gosford Park poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.2

“Gosford Park” is an enthralling murder mystery set in 1930s England. The story takes place during a weekend hunting party at a lavish country estate, where the lives of the wealthy guests and their servants coexist.  As tensions rise and secrets unravel, a murder occurs, exposing the dark underbelly of privilege and hidden agendas.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wight man, Jeremy Northam.


Keeping Mum (2005)

Keeping Mum

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 6.8

“Keeping Mum” is a dark comedy film that revolves around the dysfunctional Bliss family. When a cheerful housekeeper named Grace is hired, she proves to have a unique way of dealing with their problems, including murder. As secrets unravel, Grace becomes the unlikely saviour of the family, bringing them closer together amidst chaos and laughter.

Top cast: Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Patrick Swayze, Tamsin Egerton, Toby Parkes, Liz Smith, Emilia Fox, Terry Alderton.


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.6

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is the enchanting first installment of the beloved Harry Potter series. It introduces young Harry, who discovers he is a wizard and enrolls at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Alongside his friends Ron and Hermione, Harry unravels the mystery of the Philosopher’s Stone, facing magical challenges and encountering the dark forces that threaten the wizarding world.

Top cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Richard Griffiths.


Tea With Mussolini (1999)

Tea with Mussolini poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.9

“Tea with Mussolini” is a film set in 1930s Florence, Italy. It follows the life of a young boy named Luca, who is raised by a group of eccentric British and American women, known as the “Scorpioni.” Amidst political turmoil, the film explores the bonds of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit.

Top cast: Cher, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin, Baird Wallace, Charlie Lucas, Massimo Ghini.

Similar to

Hotel Portofino poster


The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne (1987)

The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.1

Judith Hearne, a middle-aged piano teacher, seeks solace from her loneliness in the company of others. But her desperate search for love and acceptance leads her down a path of disappointment, heartbreak and self-realisation. In a world that seems indifferent, Judith’s lonely passion becomes her greatest triumph and tragedy.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, Wendy Hiller, Ian McNeice, Marie Kean, Rudi Davies, Alan Devlin, Eleanor Methven.


Quartet (2012)

Quartet poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 6.8

Retired opera stars at a charming English home rehearse for Verdi’s birthday gala, their twilight years simmering with past passions and buried regrets. When a fiery former diva arrives, old flames rekindle, harmonies clash and a poignant performance becomes a last act of love, forgiveness and the enduring power of music.

Top cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Sheridan Smith, Jumayn Hunter, Shola Adewusi, Andrew Sachs, Trevor Peacock, David Ryall, Michael Byrne, Ronnie Fox, Luke Newberry.


From Time to Time (2009)

From Time to Time poster

Bftv 8.0 / IMDb 6.7

During World War II, young Tolly finds solace at his grandmother’s grand estate, Green Knowe. Intrigued by the mysterious past of the house, he discovers the ability to travel through time, intertwining with the lives of his ancestors. As he delves deeper into the secrets of Green Knowe, he uncovers a family legacy of love, loss and enduring connections that transcend the boundaries of time.

Top cast: Alex Etel, Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Eliza Bennett, Carice van Houten, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Pauline Collins, Kwayedza Kureya, Harriet Walter, Rachel Bell, Christopher Villiers.

More time travel

About Time poster     Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel poster


Maggie Smith full filmography @ Wikipedia
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