Elizabeth McGovern is an American film, television, theater actress, and musician who has been working in the business for more than thirty years but for the last twenty years has called the United Kingdom her home.
She received an Oscar nomination for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in the 1981 film Ragtime. Some of her other films include Ordinary People (1980), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Handmaid's Tale (1990) and The Wings of a Dove (1997), but it is her role as Lady Grantham (a.k.a. Cora Crawley) for the last five seasons on the hit television series Downton Abbey that has made her an international superstar. She has been nominated for an Emmy Award and Golden Globe for that role. Her time on Downton will be coming to an end as sadly the show's creator and writer Julian Fellows announced that the upcoming 6th season will be the last.
McGovern can currently be seen on the big screen in the drama, Woman in Gold opposite Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. She has a small role in the film (playing Federal Judge Florence Marie Cooper) but says she was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it because she was so touched and inspired by the story. In the film, Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann , a real life elderly Jewish survivor of World War II who sues the Austrian government for the return of artwork the Nazis stole from her family. McGovern's husband of over twenty years Simon Curtis directed the film.
In real life, McGovern spends her free time jamming with her folk/country band, Sadie and the Hotheads and can be heard singing on the recently released Christmas at Downton. In addition, according to the Associated Press, McGovern and her folk-rock band, will be embarking on a 10 city U.S. tour along the East coast starting Dec. 4. The seven-person band was formed in 2007 with McGovern as the lead vocalist and picked up in popularity when Downton Abbey came along. The band’s website describes their sound as “a world of musical influences, from ’60s pop to country, esoteric folk to jazz, Celtic to torch songs.”
I spoke with Elizabeth McGovern via satellite from New York about her role in Woman In Gold, her musical side and of course working on Downton Abbey.