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Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is an Americanmarker film and theater actress, who later became a singer songwriter. In 1992, she married English producer and director Simon Curtis. They and their two daughters, Matilda Lee,16 and Grace Wilkie,11 live in Chiswickmarker, Londonmarker.

Early life

McGovern was born in Evanston, Illinoismarker, the daughter of Katharine Woolcot (née Watts), a high school teacher, and William Montgomery McGovern, a university professor. Her family moved to Los Angelesmarker, where her father accepted a position with UCLAmarker. Elizabeth McGovern is the elder sister of novelist and writer, Cammie McGovern.

McGovern started acting in plays while attending North Hollywood High School. Agent Joan Scott saw her performance in The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, was impressed by her talent, and recommended that she take acting lessons. McGovern followed her advice and studied, first at the American Conservatory Theatermarker in San Franciscomarker, and then at The Juilliard Schoolmarker in New York Citymarker.


In 1980, while studying at Juilliard, she was offered a part in her first movie, Ordinary People, in which she played the girlfriend of troubled teenager Timothy Hutton. It was also Robert Redford's first film as director. The movie won four Oscar. The next year she earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the early 20th century actress Evelyn Nesbit in the movie Ragtime.

The following year she completed her education as an actress at the American Conservatory Theatre and at The Juilliard School, and began to act in theater plays, first off-Broadway and later in famous theaters.

In 1984, she starred in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America playing 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.


Besides cinema and theater, she has also played in several television productions, the most recent, a Law & Order segment, Harm, in which she played a psychiatrist, Dr. Faith Sutton. Her other television work includes Broken Glass (Arthur Miller, 1996); Tales from the Crypt; The Changeling; Tales from Hollywood; HBO Men and Women series; The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt; Faerie Tale Theatre - Snow White; and If Not For You (CBS 1995, own series).

In 1999 and 2000, McGovern played Marguerite St. Just in an A&E 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 a three-part BBC comedy series, the metrocentric 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 expat actress Elizabeth, living in Chiswickmarker with her publisher husband, played by Hugh Bonneville and co-starring Tom Hollander as her theatrical agent.


In 2008, she became a singer-songwriter, fronting the band Sadie and the Hotheads at The Castle pub venue in Balham. They released an album of a selection of songs she has developed with The Nelson Brothers, musicians and producers, who are now part of the band; plus Ron Knights on bass and Rowan Oliver, borrowed from Goldfrapp, as drummer for the recording sessions.


Roles in New York include:

In her theatre programme CVs, Ms McGovern lists her other theatre work in the US as including:

Since coming to live in London, Elizabeth McGovern's stage work has included:



  1. Elizabeth McGovern Biography (1961-)
  2. Last night on television - Telegraph Last night on television - Telegraph
  3. The Times interview, 8 February 2008

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