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Elizabeth McGovern (1961)

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Elizabeth McGovern is an American film, television, and theater actor.


 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 U.S. diplomat Ethelbert Watts. The McGovern family moved to Los Angeles where her father accepted a position with 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.

In 1980, while studying at Juilliard, McGovern was offered a part in her first film, Ordinary People, in which she played the girlfriend of troubled teenager, Conrad .

The following year she completed her education as an actress at the American Conservatory Theatre and at The Juilliard School, and began to appear in plays, first Off-Broadway and later in famous theaters.

In 1981, she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in the film Ragtime.

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, her most recent American TV role being the 2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "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 ; 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 . In 1999 and 2000, McGovern played Marguerite St. Just in a BBC television series loosely based on the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel.

In May 2007, McGovern played Ellen Doubleday, Daphne du Maurier's paramour, in Daphne, a BBC2 television drama by Amy Jenkins, based on Margaret Forster's biography of the author.

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 received a further three consecutive evening transmissions on BBC2 in February 2008. In it she 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.

In December 2008, she appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot in the episode "Appointment with Death" and played Dame Celia Westholme.

In 2010, she played a leading role as Cora, Countess of Grantham in the British TV series Downton Abbey, with Hugh Bonneville for a second time playing her character's husband. A second series aired in 2011, and a third is planned for 2012.

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 had 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 played McGovern's eldest daughter in Downton Abbey, has occasionally sung with the band.

Roles in New York include:
  • Melissa Gardner in Love Letters 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 , McGovern lists her other theatre work in the US as including:
  • My Sister in This House
  • Painting Churches
  • The Hitch-Hiker
  • A Map of the World
  • Aunt Dan and Lemon
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Winter 1987
  • When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout
  • Maids of Honour
  • Three Sisters
  • 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 at the Old Vic Theatre, March 1997
  • Nan and Lina in Three Days of Rain at the Donmar Warehouse, March and November 1999
  • Beth in Dinner With Friends at the Hampstead Theatre, June 2001
  • Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester August 2005
  • 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.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Elizabeth McGovern", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.