23 Fun Facts About The Cast of 'Downton Abbey,' Just In Time For Season 5
Did you catch the premiere of Season 5 of Downtown Abbey on PBS this weekend? If not, then let me get you caught up: When we last left the elite Crawley family, Lady Mary still wasn't getting any, Lady Edith went to Switzerland to have a baby out of wedlock, and Rose (who is the replacement requisite "rebellious younger daughter person" since we lost Sybil back in Season 3) had been presented at court and thus can now be properly married off (that is, if she can be pulled out of London's jazz clubs long enough). Meanwhile, the downstairs staff continued to have some of the best plot lines: Anna and Bates and the Whodunit murder of (dun dun dun!) Mr. Green, Cora's new Lady's Maid Baxter has some kind of crazy secret past (!!!), and Downstairs Ma and Pa, aka Carson and Mrs. Hughes, gave us a "aww" worthy season end by holding hands.
As we wait another week for the characters' stories to unfold in Season 5, why not treat yourself to some trivia about Downton Abbey 's cast? (Because you know you wanna know who is married to Dolores Umbridge IRL.) Here are 23 things you probably didn't know about the cast to tide you over until next Sunday.
1. Before she moved to the UK, Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the Countess of Grantham Cora Crawley, enjoyed a lucrative film career in the United States. In one '80s comedy, The Favor, she even smooched a young Brad Pitt.
2. McGovern was also nominated for an Academy Award when she was only 20 years old for her role as Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime.
3. The '80s was a busy decade for McGovern: she also starred opposite Kevin Bacon in She's Having a Baby, Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People, and almost married Sean Penn after she starred with him in Racing the Moon.
4. McGovern is now married to the director of My Week With Marilyn, Simon Curtis.
5. Oh yeah, and she is also the lead singer of the band Sadie & The Hotheads! Basically, she's way cooler than any of us.
6. Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, has actually been "married" to McGovern before. They starred together in a show called Freezing years before they'd hit the sack together on Downton.
7. Bonneville once summed up the worldwide appeal of Downton Abbey by quipping "It's Breaking Bad with tea instead of meth."
8. Speaking of tea, the crumdrugoney butler Carson is played by the actually lovable and hilarious Jim Carter, who you may not have known is married to Imelda Staunton, a.k.a. Dolores Umbridge (!!!)
9. Since we're on the subject, you know what other cast member is married to someone you'd never guess? Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs. Hughes, is married to actor Kevin McNally, who you may recall as Mr. Gibbs in the Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy.
10. While American interviewers have a habit of telling Logan how unrecognizable she is when she's not rocking Mrs. Hughes dowdy fingerwaves, she's actually an accomplished Scottish actress with an impressive resume: when she was in her early twenties, she won a BAFTA for her performance in the Scottish film, Another Time Another Place. She went on to star in the sitcom Lovejoy with Ian McShane — a role that made her a household name in the UK.
11. While her character might be perpetually down on her luck, Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, was working in a doctor's office as a secretary when she landed the role. She said in an interview that she actually got the call offering her the part while she was at work!
13. The sweet and also somewhat perpetually sad Anna Bates is played by Joanne Froggatt. The actress got her start on the British soap Coronation Street — a role she landed right after she'd taken a "real job" and figured she should give up acting entirely.
14. Brendan Coyle, who plays John Bates, also has a secret identity — he was actually born "David Coyle," but changed his name when he became an actor.
15. Rob-James Collier, who plays the schemin' and smokin' underbutler Thomas, found an acting coach in the yellow pages and started his training at night after he'd work a "real job" during the day. He, like Joanne Froggatt, eventually landed a part on Coronation Street.
16. Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy, can be seen in this year's live-action version of Cinderella as one of the Evil Step Sisters, Drizella.
17. And the star of the upcoming movie? Downton's very own Rose MacClare, played by Lily James.
18. Maggie Smith, who plays the sharp-tongued Dowager Countess of Grantham, has an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews and Cambridge Universities, two Academy Awards, numerous Golden Globes, Primetime Emmys, BAFTAs and Tonys, survived breast cancer, and do I really need to remind you she was Headmistress McGonagall in Harry Potter?
19. Allen Leech, who plays Tom Branson, is noted for being excellent on set with all of the child actors, who absolutely adore him. Daw.
20. Young George Crawley is played by twin boys, Oliver and Zac Barker.
21. Aunt Rosamund, played by Samantha Bond, played Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan Bond films.
22. Dr. Clarkson (who you may remember *probably would have saved Sybil* #StillNotOverIt) is played by David Robb. Robb became an international advocate for eating disorder awareness and research after his wife committed suicide in 2013 after struggling for decades with Anorexia Nervosa.
23. Jessica Brown Findlay, who played the youngest Crawley sister Sybil, was a professional ballet dancer before she struck out as an actress. She danced with the National Ballet until she was sidelined indefinitely by an injury as a teenger. It was only then that she took up acting.