Skip to main content

Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern Admits Cora Didn't Always Get It Right With Mary And Edith

Downton Abbey Cora and her daughters, dressed for dinner

It’s intimidating to be a parent at any phase of your child’s life, even in the seemingly idyllic world of Downton Abbey. With Hugh Bonneville’s Robert and Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora seeing their children through times both good and tragic, there were as many highs as there were lows. And even in the film version of Julian Fellowes’ iconic creation, McGovern knows that Cora didn’t always get things right with her two surviving daughters.

During a recent interview promoting the theatrical release of Downton Abbey, Elizabeth McGovern discussed Cora’s relationship with Mary and Edith with the following:

Well, I think she was a little bit scared of Mary and perhaps underestimated Edith. I think we don't always get it right with our children. And I think the course of events proved to everyone that Edith had a lot more than possibly met the eye in the first series. And, in fact, she does end up very much on her feet and doing very well.

Looking through the history of Downton Abbey’s events leading up to this year’s successful theatrical event, it’s easy to see both of those relationships McGovern described above in a much fuller context. Even going back to the early seasons of the ITV series, with Michelle Dockery’s Mary taking big risks with her personal life that almost had huge consequences for the entire Crawley family, you could see Cora uncertain on how to deal with her eldest daughter’s path in life.

By the time the events of 1927 start to unfold in the theatrical feature, Mary’s course is pretty much set, and her relationship with Cora is benefitting from that lack of drama. However, Laura Carmichael’s Edith has always had the rougher road to that same sort of comfort, and even in the events of Downton Abbey’s cinematic incarnation, there’s a bit of a turmoil that visits the middle child in the Crawley family line.

Though, as Elizabeth McGovern told ScreenRant, things actually work out rather well for Lady Edith by time the potential finale to the Downton Abbey legacy wraps its story. As Edith started as a woman unlucky in love, she eventually found love and purpose in her life, which was definitely thanks in part to Cora supporting her as she birthed an illegitimate child, became the editor of her own newspaper and ultimately became the Marchioness of Hexam.

It may not have been a perfect life for the Crawley children and their mother, but eventually Lady Cora saw her daughters grow beyond their initial troubles at the beginning of the Downton Abbey legacy. Should the film earn itself a sequel, there’s still plenty of room to see where that relationship could go, which makes the uncertain future all the more pleasing for fans and cast members alike.

Downton Abbey is in theaters now, but if you’re looking for something spookier to get you into the Halloween spirit, take a look at the 2019 release schedule.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.