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When Elizabeth McGovern appeared as Lady Cora Crawley, the resounding American reaction was: “Oh, I love her!” and “So great to see her working again!” McGovern hit the Hollywood big time right out of the gate, debuting on film in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People (1980) and following up with an Oscar nod for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime (1981). Then she seemed to disappear.
But it turns out, McGovern never went anyway—like Lady Cora, she just moved abroad. After marrying Simon Curtis in 1992, McGovern lived in England and continued to work in several British TV and film productions. But when McGovern first learned of Lady Cora, she didn’t leave her audition to fate. As she told The Daily Mail, “I was such a [Downton creator] Julian Fellowes fan. I wrote him a letter saying, ‘I’m on my knees—I really want to play this part!’”
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