The movie veteran recalls women chatting about the series at the salon just days before she was offered the role of regular Elizabeth McGovern's socialite mother - and she had no idea what the show was.
She tells WENN, "I walked into my hairdresser lady in Malibu and they were talking about this (show)... I thought, 'I better go look,' and I did. Soon after that, (executive producer) Rebecca (Eaton) and some other folks in my life called.
"I ran three months of it (Downton Abbey) and I was just as addicted as everybody else... but then, when it was announced I was going to do (play) Martha Levinson, I didn't know anything about her.
"So I went to my hairdresser and all the ladies in my hairdressing place said, 'Oh, she's Jewish and she's from Long Island and she has a lot of money and she's looking for a titled, old man.'
"I thought, 'That might be worthwhile investigating along with the great acting,' and that's basically why I did it - to see if my hairdresser lady is right!"