Elizabeth McGovern's Shirley learning-curve

Elizabeth McGovern

Elizabeth McGovern

Shirley MacLaine's entrance into 'Downton Abbey' helped Elizabeth McGovern learn a lot more about her character Cora.

Elizabeth McGovern learnt "a lot" about her 'Downton Abbey' character when Shirley MacLaine joined the show.

The 51-year-old actress is joined by Shirley - whose character Martha Levinson is seen for the first time - in the third series of the hit British show, and she admits her brash, on-screen persona helped her like her own character Cora much more.

She told BANG Showbiz: "I think what I love about Shirley is that as she walks through the doors of Downton, is that you see how far my character has come.

"To be the Countess of Grantham, she actually had to do a lot of adjusting as she comes from such a different kind of culture and it taught me a lot about the character and myself and it made me like her even more. With Shirley - there's no looking at your watch, let me put it that way!"

American-born Elizabeth is particularly pleased with the success of the show in her home country as so many people are "excited" by it.

She added: "It's refreshingly different. It's not something the US does particularly well. At least, there's no history of it in America in quite the same way it is here. They're just so grateful. The way it was presented in America, it wasn't given the same push as the way most shows, big network shows, are over there. They're rammed down everyone's throat.

"This is a show that Americans discovered, and once they discovered it they felt they participated in its success. It makes them more excited about it. You can't control it. It works in our favour, there."


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