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Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern: I chose my career over love


Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern would “go mad” if she thought about her failed romance with Sean Penn.

The actress met Sean on the set of Racing with the Moon in 1984, when she was 23. They began dating, fell madly in love and got engaged. However, the pair split when Elizabeth decided to move to New York to focus on her theatre career. She has described their relationship as ‘exhausting’ and never wastes time reflecting on what might have been if they had stayed together.



“No. You’d go mad if you did,” she told British magazine Grazia.

Elizabeth - who plays Cora, Countess of Grantham, in the hit UK TV show - was then pressed on whether she would have married Sean if she hadn’t decided to relocate.

“I don’t know, it was so long ago,” she replied.

Elizabeth was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar at the tender age of 20 for her role in Ragtime. The American actress has no regrets about missing out on taking the accolade home.

“I was thrilled to be nominated for an Oscar, but there was a part of me that thought, ‘I’m not sure I deserve this yet,’” she revealed.

The 52-year-old star also recalls finding Hollywood a tough place when she first started out.

Elizabeth often felt lonely and missed the friends she had grown up with.

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“I was busy growing up and being a professional actor and, at times, that was difficult. Those two things are sometimes in conflict. You have to do all the stupid things kids need to do, but you’re in the glaring light of public opinion and I think when I was first working it was more uncommon for someone young to be successful,” she explained.

“In my day I found it slightly lonely because my friends were in such a different place in their lives and the people I was working with were so much older. I was in the middle of both worlds.”

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