Elizabeth McGovern first got Hollywood's attention with star-making roles in "Ordinary People" and "Ragtime." She's currently part of the marvelous ensemble cast on "Downton Abbey" as American-born Lady Cora Crawley, wife of Robert, Earl of Grantham, and mother to three feisty young women.
In "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding," a Tribeca Film Festival narrative feature, McGovern has a similar and perhaps more thankless role as the sensible Mrs. Thatcham. Her daughter Dolly (Felicity Jones) spends the morning of her wedding swilling rum and weighing her future; and when her old paramour Joseph (Luke Treadaway) shows up, it's just another hitch in a chaotic day full of mischievous, cranky, or downright drunken relatives.
Read on for more from Lady Crawley herself on the state of modern love, motherhood, and the appearance of Shirley MacLaine in the third season of "Downton."
I thought that, for the time and the era, the mother character wasn't all that evil. Kind of par for the course.
Let's talk about Mrs. Thatcham.
I've decided that the way I view the movie, having seen it last night and sort of realizing this for the first time, it's sort of a dialectic. It's an argument between romantic love and real love, and I think the mother makes the argument for what could be called a love that you build a life on. I think in the end of the day, for me, the mother does win that argument, but I think the film is fascinating in the sense that somebody could watch the same film and come away with a different conclusion. I think that's what makes it something that the entire audience wanted to stay and talk about after they saw it, which to me, is a sign of an interesting movie.
So many period pieces work on a slow burn. With "Downton Abbey," all of my friends are like, "When's everyone going to get together?!" So that seems like part of the allure in these period pieces, the romantic slow burn.
For people that are hungry for "Downton Abbey," I think "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" is a really satisfying antidote in the meantime ... in the sense of all these people cracking against one another in a big house and all these stories ... that are never going to find resolution and all of that in intoxication, and also just the sheer beauty of the period. It's a slightly different period … For those "Downton Abbey" fans that are looking for a fix, it's a replacement drug.
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What is Shirley MacLaine like as a mother figure?
All I can say is you're going to understand a lot more about Cora than you did before as soon as Shirley MacLaine emerges from her limousine at Highclere Castle. And that's all I will say!
How was she off-screen?
Well, she's everything that you would hope she would be, in the sense that she was completely magnetic. I was actually seeing UFOs by the time she left. [laughs]