Elizabeth McGovern biography

Downton Abbey

Elizabeth McGovern

Date of Birth: July 18, 1961

Actress Elizabeth McGovern is best known for her award-nominated roles in the film Ragtime (1981) and the television series Downton Abbey (2010).

Although born in Evanston, Illinois to a University professor and high school teacher, Elizabeth did not pursue a career in education. Elizabeth caught the acting bug while in high school, where she participated in school plays. This led her to study acting at both the American Conservative Theater in San Francisco and the Julliard School in New York City.

Elizabeth made her on screen debut in a 1979 episode of the TV series California Fever. She topped that off with a role in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People in 1980. A year later, she landed the role of Evelyn Nesbit in Milos Forman’s Ragtime . The film earned eight nominations at the Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Elizabeth.

She went on to act in notable films such as Sergio Leone’s 1984 film Once Upon a Time in American with Robert De Niro and 1989’s The Handsmaid's Tale. Between films, Elizabeth has also dabbled in the world of TV and theater.

In 1992, Elizabeth married British filmmaker Simon Curtis. The two live in London and have two daughters. She was previously engaged to Sean Penn after meeting him on the set of Racing with the Moon (1984).

Arguably her most successful gig to date is her role as Cora, the Countess of Grantham, on the U.K. series Downton Abbey, which ran for six seasons from 2010 to 2015. Elizabeth’s Cora is an American woman married to a British Earl in the early 20th century, with legendary Shirley MacLaine as her mother. Her latest films include the action-packed drama The Commuter (2018) and the big screen sequel, Downton Abbey (2019), in which she reprised her role as Cora Crawley.

Elizabeth McGovern Filmography


Downton Abbey

Genre:  Drama
Running Time:  122 min.
In theatres: September 20, 2019

Current rating: Rating: 4.44
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Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, David Haig, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Kate Phillips, Simon Jones, Stephen Campbell Moore, Geraldine James