Alright Downtonians, we know there's no need to tell you what today is -- happy return of "Downton Abbey" day!

Season 3 of the smash British drama premieres tonight in the States on PBS, and in honor of your favorite show's return, our friends at have pulled together shots of the stars before the show!

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

How do we love thee, Dame Maggie Smith?

A storied veteran of stage and TV, Smith has also shouldered iconic film roles in “Sister Act” and the “Harry Potter” series. The 78-year-old now delivers barb after barb as crumudgeonly matriarch Violet in the series, already earning an Emmy in 2012, and currently nominated for both a Golden Globe and a SAG Award in 2013 for her work on Season 2.

See more "Downton Abbey" stars before they were famous at

Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham

A veteran actor of stage, screen and TV, Hugh Bonneville was perhaps best known to American audiences for his role as the endearing and bumbling Bernie in “Notting Hill” -- who fails to recognize Julia Roberts at a dinner party.

The 49-year-old was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 2012 for his work as the Earl on "Downton" -- a role he was originally reluctant to take! (We're thankful he came to his senses.)

See more "Downton Abbey" stars before they were famous at

Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham


Elizabeth McGovern hit the Hollywood big time right out of the gate, debuting on film in Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People” (1980) and following up with an Oscar nod for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in “Ragtime” (1981). Then she seemed to disappear ... from American audiences anyway.

After marrying Simon Curtis in 1992, McGovern lived in England and worked in several British TV and film productions. When she learned of Lady Cora, she didn’t leave her audition to fate. As she told the UK press: “I was such a  [“Downton” creator] Julian Fellowes fan. I wrote him a letter saying, ‘I'm on my knees -- I really want to play this part!’” And we're glad she did! She was was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 2012.

See more "Downton Abbey" stars before they were famous at

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley


A veteran of the British theater, Michelle Dockery plays the luckless-in-love romantic heroine of "Downton Abbey."

As a young actress, Dockery made her mark as a member of London’s National Theater, earning raves for her Ophelia in a 2010 production of “Hamlet.” Making her TV debut in 2005 in the series “Fingersmith,” Dockery shot to worldwide attention when she was cast as the troubled Lady Mary -- which just earned her 2013 Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.

Click "Launch Gallery" above to see even more "Downton Abbey" stars before they were famous at, and tune in tonight to catch Season 3 of the show on PBS!

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