08/14/2012 01:20 pm ET

Michelle Dockery On 'Downton Abbey,' Period Dramas

What makes "Downton Abbey" so much more addicting than other period dramas? It's soap opera-like qualities, according to Michelle Dockery.

“I think some period drama can be quite alienating, but 'Downton' isn’t,” Dockery, who stars as Lady Mary on the PBS drama, said in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. “This is going to sound quite, um, pretentious, but someone said that it’s like a soap written by a poet ... I used to get quite defensive of people saying it’s soap-like, but it kind of is."

Dockery earned an Emmy nod for her "Downton" role. And if the show's success over its first two seasons is any indication, Season 3 will be just as juicy -- especially with the addition of cast member Shirley MacLaine as Lady Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) mother.

"I sort of had to make her personality up," MacLaine told TV Guide of her upcoming role. "She is from Long Island and finally lands at Downton Abbey and sees what's happening to the place when everyone's coming back from the war. [What makes her interesting is] her reactions to tradition and the class system. I do my best to be kind to tradition, but frankly think it should shift."

Downton Abbey" Season 3 premieres in January 2013 on PBS (check local listings). For more on Dockery, head over to

Emmy Nominees 2012