Elizabeth McGovern

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of July 15, 2019

Tea Time Tidbit

Elizabeth McGovern in Starry Messenger
photo: Jo Tomalin

There’s none more graceful than Downton Abbey’s American heiress Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham. The actress who portrays her, Elizabeth McGovern, is currently gracing the stage in London’s West End, alongside two-time Tony award winner, Matthew Broderick.

Although, the production, Starry Messenger at London’s Wyndham Theatre, marks Broderick’s West End debut, McGovern, on the other hand, has been living and working in the U.K. for several years. In fact, over a decade ago she played the wife of her future Downton Abbey hubby Hugh Bonneville in a short lived British comedy series called Freezing.

Tea Time Tidbit

Matthew Broderick
photo: Jo Tomalin

Not long after Freezing was cancelled, McGovern was cast in Downton Abbey. The effect of which, as the soon to be 58-year-old actress noted in an interview recently, “has been both a blessing and a curse.” The curse is that everywhere McGovern goes people think she’s a countess. The blessings that have come with being a star of a worldwide hit television series though far outweigh the curses. The success of Downton, for instance, has given McGovern a multitude of opportunities, including the chance to produce and star in the film The Chaperone.

Tea Time Tidbit

West End Poster
for Starry Messenger
photo: Jo Tomalin

Released this past spring, The Chaperone, was adapted by Downton writer and creator Julian Fellowes from the book by Big Little Lies author Laura Moriarty. In it, McGovern plays Norma, a down-to-earth Midwestern wife and mother who accompanies the 15-year-old future movie star Louise Brooks on her first trip to Manhattan and ends up breaking free from her repressed life.

Although it is set in 1922 and the character McGovern plays is entirely fictional, the actress found in it parallels with her own experience. She “never in a million years,” for instance, saw herself producing a film. But, as McGovern said in an interview, “after reading the novel for an audio recording a light bulb turned on. It’s a great story! The story of getting this film made was incredibly empowering in orchestrating my fate.”

If you missed The Chaperone when it was in movie theatres, don’t worry. You’ll soon be able to see it on PBS’s Masterpiece, and as soon as the film’s airing date has been announced, I’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, here’s a trailer:

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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