‘Downton’ star honored
The winner of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 2013 Will Award is Elizabeth McGovern. The Academy Award-nominated actress (for “Ragtime”) plays Cora, Countess of Grantham, on “Downton Abbey.”
Is it necessary for me to disclose that I totally met Dan Stevens, a.k.a. dearly departed Matthew Crawley, one time? I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding about my role as an objective reporter here. You may have heard about the sale of this particular paper of record, but that doesn’t mean our journalistic ethics are just going whoosh out the window. So to reiterate, just because I care so much about Eugene Meyer’s seven principles: Dan Stevens and I are close, personal friends, but this bond we share in no way influences my coverage of the fact that McGovern is the winner of this year’s Will Award.
Speaking of close, personal friends, “I’ve known Elizabeth for a very long time, since she was a student at Julliard,” said Michael Kahn, artistic director at STC. “So I’ve followed her career quite closely.”
While McGovern was at the Julliard School, she got “a big opportunity” to leave and do a film (according to Kahn, the film was “Ordinary People,” McGovern’s breakout cinematic role). “We had a talk, and she asked, ‘Could I come back?’ and I said, ‘Yes, [but] you’d have to take the first year over again,” said Kahn. McGovern did return to Julliard, he said, though “sometimes people don’t.”
“She was quite serious about being a good actress, about doing not only modern roles but classical roles,” Kahn said. “And I admire her for that.”
McGovern has never performed at the Shakespeare Theatre, but Kahn said that whether an actor has worked with STC is not a factor when it comes to the Will Award.
“I thought, it’s a nice thing to celebrate not only her successful career as an actress but the fact that she had classical roots to start with,” he said. “And to encourage her to go back to that when ‘Downton’ is over.”
I see what you did there, Kahn.
“Most of the time,” after an awardee who has never performed at STC gets the honor, “they say, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be wonderful to work here?’ And then I very often invite them,” he said.
There you have it. The Will Award sometimes operates as a prestigious and elaborate invitation to work at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Which is great! Who else from “Downton Abbey” do you know, Michael Kahn? How about the hot Turkish guy, Pamuk? Let’s get Pamuk! Better yet: What are the odds of Maggie Smith making an appearance in the District?
“Maggie doesn’t even want to do a play anymore,” said Kahn, who is on a first-name basis with Smith, just like I am probably on a first-name basis with Dan Stevens. “She said to me, ‘Michael, I’ve done them all. There’s none that I want to do anymore.’ ”
That’s disappointing to hear — but I won’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.