Maggie Smith stars in Lady in the Van, reprising her role from the Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner stage production. Watch her talk method acting, the secret to a long life, and Downton Abbey.
At the press conference for Lady in the Van, which premiered at the BFI LFF in London this Tuesday, Dame Maggie was joined by director Nicholas Hytner, playwright and screenwriter Alan Bennett, producer Kevin Loader, and actor Alex Jennings.
In the movie, Maggie Smith plays Mary Shepherd, the woman who lived in a battered car in writer Alan Bennett’s driveway for 15 years.
Remarkably, the movie reunited the team from the 1999 stage adaptation of Alan Bennett’s novel. Bennett wrote the script, with Maggie Smith reprising her role and Nicholas Hytner returning to direct.
At the press conference, they proved just how comfortable they are with each other, cracking jokes and telling stories from the set.
When asked how they have so much energy at their advanced ages, Smith makes herself giggle by asking Bennett, “How do you manage to keep it up?”
Here, Maggie Smith reveals the hassle involved with playing Lady Violet in Downton Abbey:
And finally, Hytner reveals a secret he had to keep from Smith while filming:
“I didn’t find out until much later. The cowards,” Smith laughs.
At the red carpet for Lady in the Van, we caught up with Alan Bennett, who spoke a little bit about the real Miss Shepherd who inspired the book, the play, and now the movie.
He is often praised for his decision to take in the unfortunate Miss Shepherd who lived in a van on his street, but here, he attributes his act of kindness to “a sort of writerly selfishness,” because he couldn’t get any work done with her out there:
And finally, Bennett is asked whether Miss Shepherd would approve of the movie. “She’d feel it only right. She had a very high opinion of herself,” he says jovially:
If you’re a fan of the Bennett/Hytner team, you’ll also be excited to learn that they’re working on a new project together!
Producer Kevin Loader told Hypable, “We’ve got one we’re thinking about, that hasn’t been done in any form before. So Alan and Nick are working on something.”