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Maggie Smith Was Feared On Harry Potter's Set, According To Miriam Margolyes And Others

As Professor Minerva McGonagall in the "Harry Potter" movies, Maggie Smith was capable of striking fear into the hearts of students and Death Eaters alike. As Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, on "Downton Abbey," she was equally fearsome — a hurricane of wit, resilience, and one-liners. Ultimately, whether Smith was casting spells or asking what a "week-END" was, she could end a conversation as easily with words as she could a withering glance. Today, even now that both series have ended, Smith remains iconically indomitable in both roles. And critics have agreed, awarding the Oscar winner with not one but three Emmys for her role in "Downton."

Of course, fans could be forgiven for imagining that such a potent on-screen figure is equally as terrifying off-screen. After all, it would take someone truly imposing to create a character who can laugh giddily after summoning an army of murderous statues, as McGonagall does in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2." Well, as it turns out, those fans are correct. Maggie Smith is scary.

Even Chris Columbus was afraid of her

Maggie Smith has charmed and delighted co-workers as often as she has frightened them, but there was no gray area for her "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" director, Chris Columbus. She scared him, full stop. According to the Evening Standard, Columbus used to send Daniel Radcliffe to get Smith whenever he needed her, on account of the director's overwhelming fear of the then sexagenarian.

But Columbus wasn't the only person on set who cowered under Smith's steely glare. Miriam Margolyes, who played Professor Pomona Sprout throughout the "Harry Potter" series, once told "This Morning" that Smith is a force to be reckoned with. "I'm scared of her, actually," she said. "She's quite something. ... But she is a great ornament to our profession. We're very lucky to have her around."

Sounds like the dowager and professor fans know and love! On the other hand, Smith's real-life sternness no doubt comes from a place of love; otherwise, her characters wouldn't be so darn lovable.