To prepare us for the highly anticipated fourth season of Downton Abbey, American actress Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Grantham, spoke to the The Daily Mail where she discussed everything her life and how Downton Abbey really is.
The show gained worldwide popularity extremely quickly, and its fans include many celebrities. Stars such as Chris Colfer, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have all visited Highclere Castle, the stately home used for the show. It is also believed that the First Lady, Michelle Obama got DVD’s of Season Three sent because she couldn’t wait for the episodes to air in the US.
McGovern can’t help but be proud of what the cast and crew have collectively achieved.
”It is incredibly hard work, long days, late shoots, but we are a real team. It’s an amazing thing to work on a show that is so successful; that has an unbelievable effect on the cast.”
"Praising her co-stars, she continued by saying that "Michelle (Dockery) and Allen (Leech) are brilliant mimics. He does a flamboyant fashion designer act, Michelle does a great LA actress on the red carpet. Then Maggie (Smith) has all her anecdotes, which are amazing."
"There’s definitely a split between the young ones and the older ones," she added, "but on set we have ways of keeping ourselves amused."
Despite the fact that the cast is kept on a very tight leash when it comes to plot revelations, McGovern does let one thing slip: the women will finally gain some freedom and will no longer be forced to wear corsets.
"That’s right, no corsets this time, a big bonus," she said. "We can breathe again! The dresses are a lot more comfortable."
Speaking of bonuses, hopefully the actress will feel slightly more at ease now that more American actors are joining the show. Season four will see Shirley MacLaine (Cora’s mother) return and Paul Giamatti (Cora’s playboy brother Harold) will make his first appearance. “
"When Shirley arrives, the stories that get told get better and better," McGovern explains. "But for me it is wonderful to have American actors there. My tragedy is I don’t have many scenes with Shirley because the dynamic is seeing her with Maggie. They are great together."
"I’m definitely a different species on Downton," she admitted. "The way an American acts, the way they look at a script is different. We feel our way into something; a scene in an American show will take 20 minutes longer and I’m so very conscious of this."
"I stood and waited for Paul (Giamatti) to do a scene with Hugh (Bonneville). When it was over he looked shocked. He said, “He just looked at the script and then boom, he delivered. Effortless. It was like there’s some on/off button they have that we don’t. I mean, how do they do that?” I was standing there thinking, “Yes! Finally someone else gets what it’s like for me.”"
In the same interview, she also briefly discussed her personal life, particularly her decision to split from Sean Penn back in 1984 after they had gotten engaged. Rather than staying in LA near Hollywood to say her vows to the man who later married Madonna, she decided to move to New York to study theatre.
"Married Sean?" she asked when confronted about it. "I think I was the lucky one to do what I did. Things happened so fast for me. I was 18, 19, 20. I would walk into a room and people would agree with everything I said; everything I did was brilliant."
"It may look like I had a fear of that success but I didn’t," she continued. "I found the whole thing strange. I was painfully aware I didn’t know most of the time what the hell I was doing and I was also very aware I had very little life experience to draw from. I never really bought into that whole lifestyle."
Downton Abbey returns to UK TV screens in seven days, 22nd September. Unfortunately, US fans will have to be patient for quite a bit longer as PBS will not be airing the new season until 5th January 2014.