Elizabeth McGovern at Will Awards: “I’ve Broken Every Rule in the Hollywood Rule Book”

“It’s the first award I’ve ever actually won, so I’m beside myself” admitted Elizabeth McGovern Sunday evening at the Harman Center for the Arts’ Annual Gala where she accepted the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre.

Jane Harman, Jim Moran with Gala Guests

After a menu of delights comprising a range of artistic performance genres — including a mesmerizing cello concerto by 12 year old Sujari Britt, the Joffrey Ballet’s Fabrice Calmels and Victoria Jaiani‘s pas de deux “After the Rain” (which deserved its own best in show award), and a musical comedy created around McGovern’s own life and career — the actress currently known for her role as Cora on Downton Abbey gave what she laughed as “my first and possibly only acceptance speech.”

“I had no idea what I had in store for me… I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or… be sick,” she joked of the musical.  “To the man who embodied my husband… Perfect!”

Melissa Duffy and John Delmore

Reveling in a theme of All Things British, the evening that began with a cocktail reception and Gala performance would later continue with dinner and dancing down the road at the National Building Museum.  But while she had the stage, McGovern, who joined the ranks of her Downton Abbey co-star, Dame Maggie Smith, as a recipient of the Will Award, took the chance to proclaim that it was Shakespeare that “screwed her head on straight.”

“I never made the mistake of missing any opportunity that came my way to be in a Shakespeare play, and for that, I’m proud.”

“I think it’s best to end with Rosalind, who I remember with such affection, and to follow [the advice she vows in the epilogue to As You Like It] to ‘kiss as many of you that have beards that please me.’ Watch Out!  Tonight I intend to do the same!”

*Lead image credit Kevin Allen