Elizabeth McGovern at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival
July 18, 1961 |
Evanston, Illinois, US
|Spouse(s)||Simon Curtis (1992–present)|
Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is an American film, television, and theater actor, and musician.
Early life 
McGovern was born in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of Katharine Wolcott (née Watts), a high school teacher, and William Montgomery McGovern, Jr., a university professor. Her paternal grandfather was adventurer William Montgomery McGovern and her maternal great-grandfather was US diplomat Ethelbert Watts. The McGovern family moved to Los Angeles where her father accepted a teaching position with the law school at UCLA. Her younger sister is novelist Cammie McGovern.
McGovern started acting in plays while attending The Oakwood School in North Hollywood. Agent Joan Scott saw her performance in The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, was impressed by her talent, and recommended she take acting lessons. McGovern studied at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, then at The Juilliard School in New York City.
The following year she completed her acting education at the American Conservatory Theatre and Juilliard, and began to appear in plays, first Off-Broadway and later in famous theaters.
In 1984, she starred in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America as Robert De Niro's romantic interest Deborah Gelly. In 1989 she played Mickey Rourke's girlfriend in Johnny Handsome, directed by Walter Hill, and the same year she appeared as a rebellious lesbian in Volker Schlöndorff's thriller The Handmaid's Tale.
McGovern has also appeared in several television productions, mostly in the UK.
In December 2008 McGovern appeared as Dame Celia Westholme in "Appointment with Death", an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot.
In the same year she appeared in the three-part BBC comedy series Freezing, written by James Wood and directed and co-produced by her husband Simon Curtis. First broadcast on BBC Four, it was also shown on BBC2 in February 2008. McGovern played an American expatriate actress named Elizabeth, living in Chiswick with her publisher husband, played by Hugh Bonneville, and co-starring Tom Hollander as her theatrical agent.
On American TV she appeared in a 2006 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Harm," in which her character of Dr. Faith Sutton was a psychiatrist accused of complicity in detainee abuse. Her other television work includes Broken Glass (Arthur Miller, 1996); Tales from the Crypt; The Changeling; Tales from Hollywood; the HBO series Men and Women; The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt; Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre ("Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"); and If Not For You (CBS 1995, own series).
McGovern is also a singer-songwriter. In 2008 she began fronting the band Sadie and the Hotheads at The Castle pub venue in Portobello Road, London. The band released an album of songs she developed with The Nelson Brothers, who are now part of the band. The album also includes Ron Knights on bass and Rowan Oliver, borrowed from Goldfrapp, as drummer for the recording sessions. Michelle Dockery, who plays McGovern's eldest daughter in Downton Abbey, has occasionally sung with the band.
||This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (May 2012)|
Roles in New York include:
- Melissa Gardner in Love Letters (A R Gurney) at the Edison Theatre, October 1989
- Ophelia in Hamlet with the Roundabout Theater Company at the Criterion Center Stage Right, April 1992.
In her theatre programme CVs (below), McGovern lists her other theatre work in the US as including:
- My Sister in This House (Wendy Kesselman)
- Painting Churches (Tina Howe)
- The Hitch-Hiker
- A Map of the World (David Hare)
- Aunt Dan and Lemon (Wallace Shawn)
- A Midsummer Night's Dream at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Winter 1987
- When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout (Sharman McDonald)
- Maids of Honour
- Three Sisters (Chekhov)
- As You Like It
Since moving to London, McGovern's stage work has included:
- Jenny in The Misanthrope (Molière freely adapted by Martin Crimp) at the Young Vic Theatre, February 1996
- Darlene in Hurlyburly (David Rabe) at the Old Vic Theatre, March 1997
- Nan and Lina in Three Days of Rain (Richard Greenberg) at the Donmar Warehouse, March and November 1999
- Beth in Dinner With Friends (Donald Margulies) at the Hampstead Theatre, June 2001
- Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne adapted by Phyllis Nagy) at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester August 2005
- Jackie Kennedy in Aristo at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester Festival Theater September – October 2008
- Judith Brown in Complicit by Joe Sutton in The Old Vic, January 2009
- Miss A in The Shawl by David Mamet in the Arcola Theatre, September 2009
Personal life 
When she was 23, McGovern was engaged to actor Sean Penn whom she met on the set of Racing with the Moon. In 1992 she married British film director and producer Simon Curtis, and the couple have two children.
|1979||California Fever||Lisa Bannister||TV series (1 episode: "The Girl from Somewhere")|
|1980||Ordinary People||Jeannine Pratt|
|Last Year's Model||short|
|1981||Ragtime||Evelyn Nesbit||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture
|1984||Once Upon a Time in America||Deborah Gelly|
|Racing with the Moon||Caddie Winger|
|Faerie Tale Theatre||Snow White||TV series (1 episode: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs")|
|1986||Native Son||Mary Dalton|
|1987||The Bedroom Window||Denise|
|1988||She's Having a Baby||Kristy Briggs|
|1989||Johnny Handsome||Donna McCarty|
|1990||Women and Men: Stories of Seduction||Vicki||TV movie|
|The Handmaid's Tale||Moira|
|A Shock to the System||Stella Anderson|
|Tune in Tomorrow...||Elena Quince|
|1991||Ashenden||Aileen Somerville||TV mini-series|
|1992||Tales from Hollywood||Helen Schwartz||TV movie|
|1993||King of the Hill||Lydia|
|Me and Veronica||Fanny|
|Performance||Beatrice-Joanna||TV series (1 episode: "The Changeling")|
|1995||Wings of Courage||Noelle Guillaumet||short|
|Broken Trust||Janice Dillon||TV movie|
|If Not for You||Jessie Kent||TV series (8 episodes)|
|1996||Tracey Takes On...||Judge Loring||TV series (1 episode: "Vanity") - uncredited|
|Tales from the Crypt||Laura Kendall||TV series (1 episode: "Horror in the Night")|
|Broken Glass||Margaret Hymen||TV movie|
|The Summer of Ben Tyler||Celia Rayburn||TV movie|
|1997||The Wings of the Dove||Susie "Sue" Stringham|
|Clover||Sara Kate||TV movie|
|1998||The Man with Rain in His Shoes||Diane||released in the US as Twice Upon a Yesterday|
|The Misadventures of Margaret||Till Turner|
|1999||The Scarlet Pimpernel||Lady Margaret Blakeney||TV series (3 episodes)|
|2000||Thursday the 12th||Candice Hopper||TV movie|
|The House of Mirth||Mrs. Carry Fisher|
|2001||The Flamingo Rising||Edna Lee||TV movie|
|Hawk||Susie Hawkins||TV movie|
|Table 12||Mel||TV series (1 episodes: "Preserves")|
|Buffalo Soldiers||Mrs. Berman|
|2003||The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire||Helen Shaw||TV series (7 episodes)|
|Three Moons over Milford||Laura Davis||TV series (8 episodes)|
|2007||Daphne||Ellen Doubleday||TV movie|
|Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit||Dr. Faith Sutton||TV series (1 episode: "Harm")|
|A Room with a View||Mrs. Honeychurch||TV movie|
|Freezing||Elizabeth||TV series (3 episodes: 2007–2008)|
|2008||Inconceivable||Tallulah "Tutu" Williams|
|Agatha Christie: Poirot||Dame Celia Westholme||TV series (1 episode: Appointment with Death)|
|2009||10 Minute Tales||The Ex-Wife||TV series short (1 episode: "The Running of the Deer")|
|Clash of the Titans||Marmara|
|Downton Abbey||Cora, Countess of Grantham||TV series (25 episodes: 2010–present)
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2012)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (2011)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film (2011)
|2012||Cheerful Weather for the Wedding||Mrs. Thatcham|
- Theatre Record and its annual Indexes
- Elizabeth McGovern Film Reference bio
- "Katharine Watts Is Future Bride Of Law Alumnus; Engaged to William M. McGovern Jr., Who Is Harvard Graduate". The New York Times. 1958-06-22.
- "Marriage Announcement 1 -- No Title". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1958-09-19.
- Cass, Judith (1958-06-18). "Burnhams to Celebrate in West". Chicago Daily Tribune.
- Hoggard, Liz (1 November 2010). "Elizabeth McGovern is the real dame of Downtown". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- Heawood, Sophie (2008-02-08). "Elizabeth McGovern: from Hollywood to a South London pub". Times Online. Retrieved 2010-03-31.
- "Last night on television". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2007-05-14.
- Downton Abbey at ITV.com
- The Times, interview with Michelle Dockery, 6 November 2010
- "Why I had to escape Hollywood's clutches: Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern on why she had to leave fiance Sean Penn". dailymail.co.uk. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- Gilbert, Gerard (18 December 2010). "'Hollywood never suited me': Elizabeth McGovern on fleeing LA and Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- Elizabeth McGovern at the Internet Movie Database
- Elizabeth McGovern at the Internet Broadway Database