Dame Margaret Nathalie "Maggie" Smith, better known by last two words of her name, is a British actress has who won numerous accolades for her portrayal of Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies.

Debuting as a stage artist in 1952, Smith has played a variety of roles in films and television spanning over 60 years. She was honoured as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1990 New Year Honours for services to the performing arts.

As the legendary actress celebrates her 81st birthday today, here are some of her most popular quotes.

"There's a difference between solitude and loneliness."

"I like the ephemeral thing about theatre, every performance is like a ghost — it's there and then it's gone."

"Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes."

"I have many good friends, but I tend to keep to myself anyway. It's odd, doing things and having no one to share them with."

"I tend to head for what's amusing because a lot of things aren't happy. But usually you can find a funny side to practically anything."

"The performances you have in your head are always much better than the performances on stage."

"When I started acting almost 50 years ago, it wasn't about fame. It was about acting."

"An actor is somebody who communicates someone else's words and emotions to an audience. It's not me. It's what writers want me to be."

"I believe that I am past my prime. I had reckoned on my prime lasting till I was at least fifty."

"There is a kind of invisible thread between the actor and the audience, and when it's there it's stunning, and there is nothing to match that."

"People say it gets better but it doesn't. It just gets different, that's all."

"It's true I don't tolerate fools but then they don't tolerate me, so I am spiky. Maybe that's why I'm quite good at playing spiky elderly ladies."