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"It was special for me": Downton star Elizabeth McGovern on locking lips with George Clooney

Cora, Countess of Grantham.jpg

Not many people can count kissing George Clooney as part of their day job, but Elizabeth McGovern is one of them.

The 53-year-old star, aka Cora, Countess of Grantham, had the arduous task of locking lips with the newlywed former ER hunk, also 53, as part of his cameo in the Christmas special of Downton Abbey

And by the sounds of it, she rather enjoyed the experience. 

“It was special for me because there was a scripted kiss,” McGovern told The Daily Beast, in an interview this week. “I have not been quite the same ever since. He’s truly as charming as you’d hope him to be, and smart, and has his heart in the right place.”

The actress joked that George's high-profile wedding to human rights lawyer Amal Clooney in Venice this September came as a shock after the intimate moment they shared on set together.

I was a bit shocked to see his wedding go forward after our professional day together! she said. 

George Clooney

George Clooney will make a guest appearance on Downton this Christmas

But Elizabeth wasn't the only cast member to share a smooch with George during his star turn on the hit ITV show. The formidable Dowager Countess, played by Maggie Smith, is said to be another unlikely recipient of George's attentions.

“He was kissing everybody that day!” Elizabeth said. “But he wasn’t trying it on, it was all scripted.”

The Hollywood actor will play an American guest attending a wedding on the country estate in Downton's Christmas episode, in a role that was secured via his friendship with Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham.

The pair starred together in Nazi war drama The Monuments Men earlier this year.  

George and Hugh [Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham] became really close during filming and it became very clear that George loved Downton, a source told The Sun at the time.

He would joke around about the idea of getting a part so Hugh helped put the wheels in motion to make it happen.

Quite what Lord Grantham will make of George's character kissing his wife is another matter...

Downton

The Downton cast

Christmas at Downton Abbey: the album

Christmas at Downton Abbey: the album

In this latest interview, Elizabeth also discussed her carol singing stint in the double-album Christmas at Downton Abbey, which goes on sale later this month.

The actress formed the folk group Sadie and the Hotheads in 2008, and collaborated with Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) on several of the tracks for the Downton LP. 

“I’ve always got my guitar on the set of Downton Abbey and am rushing away to perform,” she said. “Music and acting are totally on the other side of the world from one another, and I do find that they’re nice antidotes for each other. The nice thing about music is I can be in control of it. I don’t need someone to give me permission.”

The star said she thought it was unlikely that producers would have got Maggie Smith to collaborate on the album: “They might have gone to [Maggie], but I’m sure she said no!”

Elizabeth has been married to British producer Simon Curtis for 22 years, and the couple have two children together. 

“I’ve been married for a really long time and have kids, and when someone sees you in a role that’s not a wife or mother, you’re grateful because you feel recognized,” she said.

The Downton Abbey special is broadcast on ITV on Christmas Day

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