Maggie Smith on '60 Minutes': Somebody Hated Her 'California Suite' Director

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Maggie Smith on '60 Minutes': Somebody Hated Her 'California Suite' Director
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Maggie Smith on '60 Minutes': Somebody Hated Her 'California Suite' Director

He may have guided her to her second Oscar, but Maggie Smith is no fan of Herbert Ross.

The "Downton Abbey" star made it clear during an appearance Sunday on "60 Minutes" that she did not enjoy working with the late director on "California Suite."

"I found the director a bit tricky, a bit spikey," Smith told interviewer Steve Kroft.

"He was jagged," she added. "He was very difficult."

She said the only thing that made her feel better was when somebody on the production said that her co-star Walter Matthau was so upset over Ross' harsh techniques that he left the set in tears.

The experience may have been bad, but Smith's performance as a fading star desperate to win an Oscar earned her the Best Supporting Actress statue in 1978.

Her description of Ross might also have applied to the septuagenarian star; at least if "60 Minutes" is to be believed. Indeed the whole subtext of Kroft's talk with Smith was that she's unbelievably intimidating and many of her castmates cower around her.

"Don't let her smell your fear," Kroft said someone warned him about Smith, who it must be said was a relatively good sport about the whole interview.

Smith even acknowledged that some of the rumors about her formidableness are true, although she chalked it up to an accident of age.

"Old people are scary, and I have to face it -- I am old, and I am scary, and I'm very, very sorry about it, but I don't know what you do," the 78-year-old Smith said.

Ross' name was never mentioned explicitly, but Smith said she had no qualms about libeling him, given that director of such films as "The Turning Point" and "Footloose" died in 2001 at the age of 74.

"I had nothing to do with his demise," Smith assured Kroft.

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