Elizabeth McGovern was born on 18th July 1961 in Evanston Illinois. She is an American film, theatre and television actor and a musician. Her mother, Katherine Wolcott was a high school teacher, and her father, William Montgomery McGovern Jr. was a University professor of law. Her younger sister, Cammie McGovern is a novelist. Her brother, William McGovern is also a professor. She is of Scottish, English and distant German ancestry and comes from an illustrious family. Elizabeth graduated from The Oakwood School and studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and then at The Julliard School in New York City. She is married to British film director and producer Simon Curtis and has two daughters Matilda and Grace. Previously she was engaged to actor
Sean Penn when she was just 23 years old. McGovern was offered her first film while she was at Julliard, Ordinary People (1980) starring opposite Timothy Hutton. For the role in Ordinary People, she dropped out of college briefly. After she had completed her college education, she began to appear in plays, and later major theatre productions. In 1981, she did the film Ragtime for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Other movies of hers include Once Upon a Time in America, Racing With the Moon and Lovesick, all of which she did in 1984. In 1989, she acted in Johnny Handsome and The Handmaid’s Tale in which she played the role of a rebellious lesbian. Other films she has acted in include She’s Having a Baby, The Bedroom Window, A Shock to the System, etc. Elizabeth is a versatile actress and has covered many genres throughout her career. She is famous as Cora, Countess of Grantham in the British TV series
Downton Abbey. Other TV shows that she appeared in include Tales from the Crypt: The Changeling, Freezing, Law & Order, Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, etc. She claims that acting on stage is much more challenging than on screen. “By 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 realise that each road has its rewards”, says Elizabeth.
Although she has a very busy schedule, working on important film projects throughout the year, she tries to take out time to do theatre. McGovern was also the lead singer in the band Sadie and the Hotheads since 2008. Her band performs at The Castle pub venue at Portobello Road, London. The band plays music of kinds, most of which are written by McGovern herself. Their second album – HOW NOT TO LOOSE THINGS featured McGovern’s Downton Abbey co-star Michelle Dockery. The band collaborates with a lot of artists for their songs, many of which are contacts that McGovern made during her work on films. In an interview, McGovern mentioned how she never planned to have children and that when she moved to London, she found it very difficult to adjust to marriage, having kids and work at the same time. But she identified more with the nature of work in the British entertainment industry rather than Hollywood. She calls life in Hollywood very fast. She currently lives in London with her family, loves travelling by the Tube and claims that her favourite authors are Henry James and Edith Wharton. She fondly talks about her younger days as an actress and what it was like to be ‘hot and happening’ in Hollywood. She uses her experience over the years to put life into her characters and attempts to work hard each year. Although she is hitting 54 years now, she can still give the younger actress a good run for their money when it comes to looks and great figure. Her latest film Showing Roots is due for release later this year.