Elizabeth McGovern made her feature film debut in first-time director Robert Redford’s Oscar-winning 1980 film “Ordinary People,” starring Mary Tyler Moore, Timothy Hutton, and Donald Sutherl.
“I didn’t have anything to compare it to, so my feeling was like, ‘God, show business is easy, isn’t it?” McGovern, 60, chuckled in a recent interview with The Post. “Little did I know! Then I had to sort of stick with it for however many years, which we won’t say. But, yes, that was a very special time.”
She added, “and when I think back, what an incredibly unusual director to have worked with for my first job — and I do appreciate it more and more as time goes by.”
Elizabeth McGovern was the lone Yank in the British period drama for its television run. She reprised the role in the 2019 film and the sequel, “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” out May 18 in theaters and streaming on Peacock 45 days later.
Elizabeth McGovern confessed that, much like her character, she does not quite understand the intricacies of class distinction depicted in “Downton Abbey.”
“It’s almost like tribal rituals or something,” she said. “And it holds absolutely no weight with me. It’s quite a freeing thing not to be caught up in all the machinations of the hierarchy … I mean, I don’t get it.
“That’s the way I felt when I first moved to England and I still feel the same way.”
Elizabeth McGovern’s favorite “Abbey” character is Thomas Barrow, the closeted gay butler.
“I think that that story is so well-written and it always really moves me,” she explained. “It feels like such an accurate depiction of the way someone like him would feel trapped and suppressed. And he is a wonderful story in the film and that gave me a lot of pleasure to watch.”
And as for whether Elizabeth McGovern thinks there will be a third movie?
“I have no idea,” McGovern confessed. “I’m always the cynical one that says, ‘This is it.’ And then, a year later, I’m back on the set, so I give up. I have no idea.
“I would hate for us to push it too much and churn out something that wasn’t kind of the same level of the stuff that I feel we’ve managed to put out. And that’s always my fear. But, you know, I don’t know. Never say never.”