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Downton Abbey exclusive: An interview with Elizabeth McGoven


1st Jan 2015 Film & TV

Downton Abbey exclusive: An interview with Elizabeth McGoven

Elizabeth McGovern plays the sweet if not slightly too trusting Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham. Find out what is in store for Cora in series five of Downton Abbey in this exclusive interview.

Watch Elizabeth McGovern talk about Downton Abbey in this exclusive clip...

Why is Downton Abbey so enduring?

I wish I knew the answer to that, but I don’t. If I did every show I would be involved in would be as big a hit. I think it’s an escape from the enormous speed of the modern world, maybe people find that comforting.

Is there a bond between the Downton Abbey Cast?

We’ve all been through a lot together, we’ve been working for a long time. It’s funny because sometimes it tears casts apart when a show becomes successful…but in this case it’s really bonded the cast.

Do you look forward to reading the latest Downton storyline?

I open it with excitement and trepidation, it’s the first series that I’ve ever been in that’s actually gone on for any length of time. This idea that you’ve signed on to do one story and then it goes on and on and on, I have absolutely no control over where it’s going.

I’ve always taken great pride in choosing scripts that really speak to me, so to be in a situation where your getting scripts and you just have to do them, you don’t have a choice, is something I’ve been afraid to do but in this case, I feel generally it’s all going to come out fine in the end.

Can you set up the back story to series five?

In series five we go back as far as we’ve ever gone to where we were [when we first started], in the sense that we haven’t got a huge death to process the way we did last year when we were all reeling from the death of Matthew. It’s back to being a series about the domestic relationships in the house, which is actually the aspect of the series that I find the most interesting.

We begin in 1924 and we don’t jump ahead in time all that much. Time has gone back to how it was when we started in series one; it moves quite slowly and it's more about detail. Time is changing incrementally rather than in leaps and bounds, but it is creating bigger fissures on top of which this world is constructed.

As an actress, do you enjoy returning to the role of Cora Crawley?

Well, it’s an amazing opportunity for an actor because all the stuff you’re initially working on is already in place on day one; how does the character talk? how do they move? who are they? that’s all already in place so you get to take this character through growth and change.

What lays ahead for Cora Crawley?

Towards the beginning of the series there’s an episode in which she encounters a character who brings out her sense of herself—who she is—because they have a common interest and that was really fun to play because I also learned a little bit about Cora that I didn’t know.

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