01/30/2012 03:09 pm ET

Shirley MacLaine To Join 'Downton Abbey' For Season 3

Lady Grantham is in for a pleasant surprise on "Downton Abbey" next season when her mother comes to Downton. Joining the British drama for Season 3 is Academy Award-winning actress Shirley MacLaine, according to an official release.

Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Lady Cora, had previously told the U.K.'s Sun that the third season would see some of her American relatives coming to Downton, including her mother, Martha Levinson, played by MacLaine.

"Julian [Fellowes] has written another brilliant character in Martha Levinson, who will be a wonderful combatant for Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess and we are excited at the prospect of Shirley MacLaine playing her," said executive producer Gareth Neame, in a statement.

We can't wait to see what the Dowager Countess thinks of Martha Levinson. Will these two Academy Award winners go head-to-head on the Downton estate? We can only hope.

Season 2 of "Downton Abbey" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on PBS. The third season will premiere in the UK in the fall of 2012 and will then air in the US in the winter of 2013.