Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthJuly 18, 1961
SpouseSimon Curtis
FactSings and plays guitar in her own band "Sadie and the Hotheads".

Elizabeth McGovern is an American actress, singer, and songwriter. She is best known for her role as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham in the British period drama Downton Abbey, for which she has been nominated for an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. She has also appeared in films such as Ordinary People, Once Upon a Time in America, The Wings of the Dove, and Ragtime.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, McGovern is the daughter of Katharine (Wise), a professor of English, and James J. McGovern, Jr., an attorney and businessman. She has two sisters, Jane and Sarah. McGovern was raised in Los Angeles, California. She attended Harvard University, where she studied history and literature.

After graduation, McGovern moved to New York City, where she worked as a waitress and an actress. She made her Broadway debut in the play The Ritz in 1975. Her film debut came in 1978 with the film Heaven Can Wait.

McGovern’s breakthrough role came in 1980 with the film Ordinary People, in which she played the wife of Timothy Hutton’s character. The film was a critical and commercial success, and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In the early 1990s, McGovern appeared in several films, including The Wings of the Dove (1997), for which she received another Academy Award nomination, and Ragtime (1981). She also had a recurring role on the television series Law & Order as Assistant District Attorney Nora Lewin.

From 2010 to 2015, McGovern starred as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, in the British period drama Downton Abbey. The show was a critical and commercial success, and earned her several award nominations.

McGovern has been married to actor Simon Curtis since 1992. They have two daughters together.

General Info

Full NameElizabeth McGovern
Date Of BirthJuly 18, 1961
Height1.75 m
ProfessionSinger-songwriter, Actor
EducationJuilliard School, American Conservatory Theater


SpouseSimon Curtis
ChildrenMatilda Curtis, Grace Curtis
ParentsWilliam Montgomery McGovern Jr., Katharine Wolcott
SiblingsCammie McGovern, William Montgomery McGovern


AwardsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, Obie Award for Ensemble Performance
NominationsAcademy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie, Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Tele...
MoviesOnce Upon a Time in America, Ragtime, Racing with the Moon, Ordinary People, She's Having a Baby, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, Johnny Handsome, The Favor, Woman in Gold, The Bedroom Window, Kick-Ass, The Wings of the Dove, Clash of the Titans, Buffalo Soldiers, Angels Crest, A Shock to the Syst...
TV ShowsDownton Abbey, Three Moons Over Milford, The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Freezing, If Not for You

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1I had reconciled myself to being happily out to pasture, a bit.
2In today's world, we all live with the burden of feeling that anything is possible if we're only clever enough, smart enough, work hard enough.
3It's very tough when two creative people are together.
4I don't believe in villains - just people who channel their energy in the wrong way.
5It's peaceful for people to know how their lives are going to be, pretty much.
6I can't just sit around thinking how lucky I am.
7That feeling of being 19 or 20 and 'hot' in Hollywood was so intense.
8I like writing letters and receiving letters. It's a shame that we've lost the art of letter-writing and saving correspondence. I mourn that.
9Now we have to contend with overstimulation and too many opportunities all the time, and too many decisions all the time.
10Well, I have a band, "Sadie and the Hotheads", and we have an album that is already out that is available on our website.
11I've got my private life - that's sacred - and I didn't have that before.
12Well, when I moved to England I was making a lot of personal adjustments because I was getting married and starting a family, that sort of thing.
13I have a terrible sense of direction.
14By definition, an actor's life is a recipe for regret. There are always roads you could have taken. But I've lived long enough to realize that each road has its own rewards.
15England as a culture has endured so much more than America has as a culture, so it's given them a different perspective.
16My family were all into classical music, and I found that very intimidating.
17I've found acting on stage much more challenging than on screen.
18So the English approach to show business and their work is more - and this is a big generalization, I hasten to say - but it's more, they work on it as a craft job.
19My father was an academic, an eccentric. He was a lecturer.
20North Hollywood isn't actually Hollywood, it's in the San Fernando Valley... it's not the most glamorous part of L.A.
21I wasn't ecstatic about being pregnant - I wasn't somebody who actively wanted kids. Certainly there were no fantasies about nappy-changing.
22I miss sometimes the buzz of America. A sense that anything can change at the drop of a hat. In a way, it's an exhausting thing to live with.
23As far as I can see women who have facelifts don't look younger, just weirder. You see them on screen with these tight, little porcelain faces - then the hand goes up to the face and it looks like it belongs to an alien. I find it really freaky.
24I've been in things that have impressed people and they've come up to congratulate you but in a kind of, you-must-think-you're-really-special way.
25I love having the opportunity to explore a part for a great length of time, really get deeper and deeper into it, because you only have a chance to do that once or twice in a career.
26To me, the lyrics of the song define the kind of style it is.
27In London, I take the Tube everywhere.
28I'm someone who's done the opposite of whatever the received wisdom is, to keep your career going into your 50s.
29We lack rituals in this modern world.
30If I feel I can play a part I do everything in my power to try to play it.
31Whenever I work on anything, there's always the fantasy that what one is doing is the next 'Citizen Kane'-slash-'Sopranos.'
32Most people grow up dreaming of going to Hollywood and some of them work and work and work and finally end up in Hollywood.
33I still feel I'm doing the same work I've always done.
34Hollywood never suited me, I didn't ever feel comfortable with it, it took me a couple of years but I found where I was always meant to be... Chiswick!
35I just find it fascinating, like everybody, to be in a different life. It's an escape.
36My job now is to work hard and learn all I can.
37I turned down the opportunity to be in some films that went on to be blockbusters.
38There is nothing in my life where I view myself as a 1920s person.
39Honestly, I am always shocked when I see myself in the mirror because I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 18 getting off the plane to go to Juilliard in New York.
40On careers other than acting: "I probably would have become a veterinarian, or I might have lived on a ranch somewhere and raised horses, or I might have become more serious about painting, or I might have worked in a Burger King."


1Can be seen in The Making of 'Amadeus' (2002), uncredited. In footage from her screen tests (in costume, apparently testing for the role of Constanze) her face has been blurred but her name can be read clearly on handwritten lists of actors that appear onscreen in a shooting log.
2She has Scottish, English, and more distant German, ancestry.
3Met husband-to-be Simon Curtis on Performance: Tales from Hollywood (1992), an episode of the popular BBC TV series Performance (1992), where Curtis was a producer.
4Her band "Sadie and the Hotheads" (formed 2007) opened for Sting at the Montreux Jazz Festival Switzerland (July 16th, 2013).
5Appeared opposite Richard Dreyfuss and David Suchet in the disastrous production of Complicit directed by Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic. [January 2009]
6Recently appeared on British television in a situation comedy written by her husband Simon Curtis. [February 2008]
7Is appearing in the British series "Downton Abbey" which is presently showing on PBS in the USA. [January 2011]
8Now lives in England, UK [April 2006]
9Counts Henry James and Edith Wharton among her favorite authors.
10Has two daughters named Matilda (b. July 1993) and Grace Curtis (b. 1998).
11Daughter of Katie and Bill McGovern.
12Has lived in West London (UK) since 1992.
13Sings and plays guitar in her own band "Sadie and the Hotheads".
14Has a brother, William Montgomery McGovern, "Monty" who is a professor of mathematics.
15Was engaged to Sean Penn after falling in love on the set of Racing with the Moon (1984).
16As a young actress on the New York stage, McGovern was required in one play to pray over some candles that were set on a bed. Realizing that the bed had caught fire halfway through her monologue, McGovern kept talking while trying to pat out the flames. She thought she had the situation pretty well under control, when firefighters suddenly arrived onstage to clear the theater.
17Dropped out of college when she was studying acting at The Juilliard School in order to accept the ingénue role in Ordinary People (1980).
18Her younger sister Cammie McGovern is a novelist, whose latest novel [2006] is "Eye Contact."




The Commuter2017post-production
Showing Roots2016Shirley
Downton Abbey2010-2015TV SeriesCora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
Woman in Gold2015Judge Florence Cooper
Text Santa 20142014TV MovieCora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
Civil War: The Untold Story2014TV Mini-Series documentaryNarrator (voice)
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding2012Mrs Thatcham
Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters2011TV MovieWallis Simpson (voice)
Angels Crest2011Jane
Clash of the Titans2010Marmara
Kick-Ass2010Mrs. Lizewski
10 Minute Tales2009TV SeriesEx Wife
Freezing2008-2009TV SeriesElizabeth
Agatha Christie's Poirot2008TV SeriesDame Celia Westholme
Inconceivable2008Tallulah 'Tutu' Williams
A Room with a View2007TV MovieMrs. Honeychurch
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit2007TV SeriesDr. Faith Sutton
Daphne2007TV MovieEllen Doubleday
Three Moons Over Milford2006TV SeriesLaura Davis
The Truth2006Donna
The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire2003TV SeriesHelen Shaw
Thursday the 12th2003TV MovieCandice Hopper
Buffalo Soldiers2001Mrs. Berman
Hawk2001TV MovieSusie Hawkins
Table 122001TV SeriesMel
The Flamingo Rising2001TV MovieEdna Lee
The House of Mirth2000Mrs. Carry Fisher
The Scarlet Pimpernel1999TV SeriesLady Marguerite Blakeney
Twice Upon a Yesterday1998Diane
The Misadventures of Margaret1998Till Turner
Clover1997TV MovieSara Kate
The Wings of the Dove1997Susan
The Summer of Ben Tyler1996TV MovieCelia Rayburn
Broken Glass1996TV MovieMargaret Hyman
Tales from the Crypt1996TV SeriesLaura Kendall
Tracey Takes On...1996TV SeriesJudge Loring
If Not for You1995TV SeriesJessie Kent
Broken Trust1995TV MovieJanice Dillon
Wings of Courage1995Noëlle
The Favor1994Emily Embrey
Performance1992-1993TV SeriesBeatrice-Joanna Helen Schwartz
Me and Veronica1993Fanny
King of the Hill1993Lydia
Ashenden1991TV Mini-SeriesAileen Somerville
Women and Men: Stories of Seduction1990TV MovieVicki
Tune in Tomorrow...1990Elena Quince
A Shock to the System1990Stella Anderson
The Handmaid's Tale1990Moira
Johnny Handsome1989Donna McCarty
She's Having a Baby1988Kristy Briggs
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam1987TV Movie documentaryMe (voice)
The Bedroom Window1987Denise
Native Son1986Mary Dalton
Faerie Tale Theatre1984TV SeriesSnow White
Racing with the Moon1984Caddie Winger
Once Upon a Time in America1984Deborah Gelly
Lovesick1983Chloe Allen
Ragtime1981Evelyn Nesbit
Last Year's Model1980Short
Ordinary People1980Jeannine
California Fever1979TV SeriesLisa Bannister


Inconceivable2008devised in collaboration with - as Elizabeth Mcgovern


Angels Crest2011writer: "One Thing Leads To Another"


Teen Knight1999special thanks


Our Queen at Ninety2016TV Movie documentaryHerself - Narrator (US version) (voice)
Million Dollar American Princesses2015-2016TV Mini-SeriesHerself
Live with Kelly and Michael2015TV SeriesHerself - Guest
PBS NewsHour2015TV SeriesHerself
The Talk2015TV SeriesHerself
The Chew2015TV SeriesHerself
Good Morning America1990-2015TV SeriesHerself - Guest
BBC News 8pm Summary2015TV Series shortHerself
The Making of Woman in Gold2015Video documentary shortHerself / Judge Florence Cooper
The Kumars2014TV SeriesHerself
Tavis Smiley2013TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding: Behind the Scenes2013Video documentary shortHerself / Mrs Thatcham
Loose Women2013TV SeriesHerself
Arena2012TV Series documentaryHerself - Narrator
Charlie Rose2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Skavlan2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Sunday Brunch2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Shirley MacLaine2012TV MovieHerself
The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards2012TV SpecialHerself - Nominee: Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV-Movie
Downton Abbey: Behind the Drama2011TV MovieHerself
The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards2011TV SpecialHerself - Nominated: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Daybreak2011TV SeriesHerself
My Life in Books2011TV SeriesHerself
The Graham Norton Show2010TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Frostrup on Sunday1999TV SeriesHerself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien1994TV SeriesHerself - Guest
The 62nd Annual Academy Awards1990TV SpecialHerself - Presenter: Best Makeup
Today1985TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Working in the Theatre1985TV Series documentaryHerself
The 55th Annual Academy Awards1983TV SpecialHerself - Co-Presenter: Best Visual Effects

Archive Footage

Downton Abbey Revisited2012TV Movie documentaryCora Crawley, Countess of Grantham
OK! TV2011TV Series documentaryCora, Countess of Grantham
Remembering 'Ragtime'2004Video documentary shortEvelyn Nesbit (uncredited)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1990TV SeriesElena Quince from film TUNE IN TOMORROW...


Won Awards

2016ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)
2015ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)
2013ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)

Nominated Awards

2015BAFTA Scotland AwardBAFTA Awards, ScotlandBest Actress - FilmSwung (2015)
2014ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)
2012Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TelevisionDownton Abbey (2010)
2012OFTA Television AwardOnline Film & Television AssociationBest Actress in a Drama SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)
2011Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or MovieDownton Abbey (2010)
2011Gold Derby TV AwardGold Derby AwardsTV Movie/Mini Lead ActressDownton Abbey (2010)
2011OFTA Television AwardOnline Film & Television AssociationBest Actress in a Motion Picture or MiniseriesDownton Abbey (2010)
2011Satellite AwardSatellite AwardsBest Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for TelevisionDownton Abbey (2010)
2011WIN AwardWomen's Image Network AwardsActress Made For TV Movie / Mini SeriesDownton Abbey (2010)
1993CableACECableACE AwardsSupporting Actress in a Movie or MiniseriesAshenden (1991)
1991CableACECableACE AwardsActress in a Movie or MiniseriesWomen and Men: Stories of Seduction (1990)
1982OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actress in a Supporting RoleRagtime (1981)
1982Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USANew Star of the Year in a Motion PictureRagtime (1981)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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