Less than two weeks after BBC Masterpiece Classics producer Rebecca Eaton dished about the upcoming Season 3 of Downton Abbey and happened to state that star Dame Maggie Smith, 77, was "difficult" to work with, Smith has announced her decision to leave her role as Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess, on Downton Abbey when her contract ends after wrapping Season 3.

Writer Julian Fellowes, who also penned the Smith-starring hit Gosford Park, convinced Smith to return to the show for the Christmas special, though she will be leaving after this season. "Maggie has asked Julian to write her character out," a source told the UK's Daily Mail. "She is filming until August and then wants to leave, going out on a high. She thinks that three series is enough and she wants to get back to the stage and the big screen."

It is not clear yet how the Oscar-winning Smith will be written out of Downton Abbey. When Eaton revealed spoilers to the upcoming season, she happened to mention that "somebody will die" on the show. "Somebody pretty key in the cast, unfortunately, is not going to make it." Could Eaton have been talking about Smith's Lady Violet?

For now — "difficult" or not — Smith's departure "will be a great loss," the source told the Mail. Fellowes previously revealed that he felt the same way. "I can't pretend it won't be a knife in my heart when she decides to move on."

If you can't wait for Smith's final season of Downton Abbey, you can catch her this November with Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly in the big screen comedy, Quartet. Downton Abbey will return to PBS for its third season in January 2013.

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