Maggie Smith, the indomitable dame who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham on the popular British TV series Downton Abbey, is "fine and well at home" after reports popped up in the U.K. media over the weekend that she was rushed to a hospital after suffering chest pains.
The Sunday Mirror claimed that the 77-year-old Oscar winner for 1969's Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and 1978's California Suite went through a series of cardiac tests at London's Wellington Hospital on Friday, and was released when found stable. But the Daily Mail downplayed the scare, saying it is thought she was getting a routine medical procedure.
But the news did raise concern that Smith, whose deliciously wicked portrait of imperious matriarch Violet Crawley has earned her two Emmys and has helped turn Downton into a worldwide sensation, might not return after the third season that concludes Sunday in England before arriving on these shores in January.
Smith told USA TODAY earlier this fall that as time marches on the show, she feels Violet will realistically have to say farewell eventually. " Listen, I must be 110 by now on Downton Abbey. Granny is going to kick the bucket at some point."
Still, Downton creator Julian Fellowes has said he is determined to keep Smith on the series as long as he can. "Dame Maggie will be in this show for as long as she wants to be and I can tell you that even if she doesn't want to be, she won't die. She'll go to the seaside just in case she wants to come back."
Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 but carried on as schoolmistress Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film series while undergoing radiation therapy. She has shown no signs of slowing down, even being touted as a possible Oscar nominee in both the surprise big-screen success The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and as a retired opera diva in Quartet, opening Dec. 28.
There has been talk of a sequel to Hotel, which revolves around British retirees taking refuge in India, but Smith is not quite sure how that would work. "I heard that and it would be in a funeral parlor. We're all in old people's homes. Where are you going put the sequel?"
The actress, who is notoriously press averse, is looking for an easy option to promote Quartet and might follow an acquaintance's suggestion: "I was talking to a friend who knows all about this sort of thing and he said I ought to do 60 Minutes."