Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is an American film, television, and theater actor.
In 1980, while studying at Juilliard, McGovern was offered a part in her first film, Ordinary People, in which she played the girlfriend of troubled teenager, Conrad (Timothy Hutton).
The following year she completed her education as an actress at the American Conservatory Theatre and at The Juilliard School, and began to appear in plays, first Off-Broadway and later in famous theaters.
In 1981, she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in the film Ragtime.
In 1984, she starred in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America as Robert De Niro's romantic interest, Deborah Gelly. In 1989, she played Mickey Rourke's girlfriend in Johnny Handsome, directed by Walter Hill, and the same year she appeared as a rebellious lesbian in Volker Schlöndorff's thriller The Handmaid's Tale.
McGovern has also appeared in several television productions, her most recent American TV role being the 2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Harm," in which her character of Dr. Faith Sutton was a psychiatrist accused of complicity in detainee abuse. Her other television work includes Broken Glass (Arthur Miller, 1996); Tales from the Crypt; The Changeling; Tales from Hollywood; the HBO series Men and Women; The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt; Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre ("Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"); and If Not For You (CBS 1995, own series). In 1999 and 2000, McGovern played Marguerite St. Just in a BBC television series loosely based on the novel The Scarlet Pimpernel.
In May 2007, McGovern played Ellen Doubleday, Daphne du Maurier's paramour, in Daphne, a BBC2 television drama by Amy Jenkins, based on Margaret Forster's biography of the author.
In the same year, she appeared in the three-part BBC comedy series Freezing, written by James Wood and directed and co-produced by her husband Simon Curtis. First broadcast on BBC Four, it received a further three consecutive evening transmissions on BBC2 in February 2008. In it she played an American expatriate actress named Elizabeth, living in Chiswick with her publisher husband, played by Hugh Bonneville, and co-starring Tom Hollander as her theatrical agent.
In December 2008, she appeared in an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot in the episode "Appointment with Death" and played Dame Celia Westholme.
In 2010, she played a leading role as Cora, Countess of Grantham in the British TV series Downton Abbey, with Hugh Bonneville for a second time playing her character's husband.