09/10/2012 09:23 am ET

Maggie Smith: 'Downton Abbey' Is Why I'm Popular

Maggie Smith knows why you love her and she seems OK with it. While speaking with, Smith said "Downton Abbey" is the reason she's so hot right now.

"People think of you differently if you’ve been in their homes," Smith said. "They think they own you because they watched you while they were eating dinner, or they can turn you up or down, or even freeze you.”

But being on a hit TV show doesn't mean you're the be all and end all.

“I got in a taxi the other day," she said. "The driver recognized me from 'Downton' and asked me when the next season started. Before I could tell him, he said, ‘I always watch it when the football isn’t on,’ and that sure put me in my place."

"Downton Abbey" returns for Season 3 with more drama (crying, kisses, etc.) in the US in January, but UK viewers get the new season on Sept. 16 on ITV. "Downton Abbey" Season 3 kicks off with the arrival of Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) mother.

As seen in the teasers, MacLaine's character and Smith's Dowager Countess seem to be ... frenemies.

"I adore Maggie Smith," MacLaine told Alex Simon, a blogger for The Huffington Post. "The comedy of class, played so straight, is a wonderful thing for an actor to sink their teeth into."

In fact, MacLaine said she believes she and Smith had quite the connection in a past life. "Well, we were lovers in another life," MacLaine said.

Smith told that having MacLaine part of Season 3 was "great fun."

"She was a great shot in the arm for everybody," Smith said. "But when she talks about some of her stranger theories, you just listen. She told us in Santa Fe, there were UFOs up in the mountains and the bears were coming down to visit the local Starbucks as a result. I asked if they were all drinking green skinny lattes, but she never answered me.”

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'Downton Abbey' Season 3