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Downton Abbey star Maggie Smith looked incredible at start of her career - take a look back

The actress has appeared in plenty of films and shows over the years

Francesca Shillcock

Downton Abbey may have finished five years ago, but re-watching classic episodes all over again on ITV has been getting us through recent times. One of the stars of the period drama, Dame Maggie Smith who plays Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, has been a favourite not just on Downton but in plenty of other films and TV shows over the years.

MORE: Why Dame Maggie Smith really didn't like her Downton Abbey role

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Her impressive career spans over 60 years, and the 85-year-old is one of the few actresses to receive the 'Triple Crown' of awards: an Academy Award, a Tony Award and an Emmy. To celebrate her incredibly successful career in acting, and Downton being back on TV, we've taken a look back at some of her earliest roles below – and you won't believe how different she looks!

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Maggie plays Violet Crawley in the period drama

Maggie Smith's early career

Maggie was born in Essex, 1934 and began performing from a young age after joining the Oxford Playhouse to study acting. Soon after, Maggie began working on stage in Shakespearean productions and soon gain attention for her talent. Her first film appearance was in 1956 in Child in the House and also made her Broadway debut in the same year. Here, Maggie is pictured in her early career after being named Stage Actress of the Year by the Varity Club of Great Britain. She earned her first Oscar nominated just two years later in 1965 for her performance in the film adaption of Othello opposite Laurence Olivier, securing her name as one of the greats in the acting world.

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Maggie looks incredible in this throwback

Maggie Smith late career

Maggie continued working in numerous stage productions throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. But she also continued to appear in a number of successful films such as California Suite (for which she awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), Death on the Nile, Sister Act, Hook, the Harry Potter films and many more. Most recently, she reprised her roles as Violet Crawley for the Downton Abbey film and starred in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Lady in the Van.

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The actress has had a hugely successful career

Maggie Smith Downton Abbey

In recent times, the 85-year-old is hailed for her work in films such as A Room With a View, The Lady in the Van and Harry Potter. But she's perhaps known and loved for playing Violet Crawley in the Julian Fellowes' period drama. However, in an interview with ES Magazine last year, the actress surprised fans by admitting that she didn't find her two iconic characters, Violet Crawley and Professor McGonagall, "satisfying". "I am deeply grateful for the work in Potter and indeed Downton but it wasn't what you'd call satisfying. I didn't really feel I was acting in those things," she said.

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