Downton’s Elizabeth McGovern on turning 60 and career opportunities, the secret to long-lasting love and being an empty nester.
As American heiress Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, in the hit TV series and upcoming Downton Abbey sequel, Elizabeth has become a household name. And in our exclusive interview and shoot for woman&home she reveals she wasn’t originally comfortable with her recent milestone birthday.
She says, "Turning 50 was fine, but I did not like the idea of turning 60. As it encroached, everything about me was like, ‘No, I cannot be 60 I’m not into it!’ Once I got past the milestone and with a little help from friends, now I’m loving it."
She adds, "There is less opportunity for a woman my age than a man my age. That is the reality, but things are changing slowly. Conversations over the past couple of years have been very profound and although it’s been a tough couple of years, I feel very hopeful about the future."
Elizabeth, whose husband is film director Simon Curtis and who she married in 1992, thinks she has discovered the secret of a happy marriage. She says, "The key to our long-lasting love is a sense of humor. That’s basically the key to everything!"
Opening up about one particular example the actor added, "When I was pregnant with our first baby, and the doctor was checking for the baby’s heartbeat and asking if we wanted to know whether it was a boy or girl. My husband said 'I don’t care what it is. I just want it to have a sense of humor.'"
"At that moment, I realized ‘that’s why I’m with this guy. Humour is a way of processing problems, which makes them easier to bear.’"
Elizabeth also recalls another challenging period of her life when her adult daughters, Matilda, 27, and Grace, 23, flew the family nest.
The actor admits, "It was a transition when my daughters left home. Shortly after they left we had lockdown, so they both moved back in and I couldn’t have been happier!"
Elizabeth admits, "I would be lying if I said I don’t miss them. I was branching out during their upbringing. As they began school, I started a band and then the challenge and responsibility of writing this play hit me at the perfect time. It’s really distracted me from feeling the loneliness of having them go."
The full interview with Elizabeth is featured in the April issue of woman&home, on sale Thursday, March 3, 2022.
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Miranda McMinn is the editor of woman&home magazine, the brand that prides itself on celebrating, supporting, and inspiring midlife women. Previously she has worked on magazines and newspapers including Marie Claire, Red, The Times, the Observer, and the Daily Mail.
A midlife warrior herself, Miranda has three children and has a passion for country walks, log fires, and winter swimming—she swims all year round in the Hampstead Ladies Pond and heartily recommends it—nothing like a dip in a 4 degree pond to get you ready to face the day!
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