Laura Carmichael and Elizabeth McGovern on our shoot [Grazia]
Hooray! It’s nearly that time of year again, when the Downton Abbey Christmas Special hits our screens. Covering our All-Star Christmas Issue (on sale Tuesday 17 December) are two of the show's most loved actresses, Elizabeth McGovern (Countess of Grantham) and Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith). On the shoot at Soho nightclub Madame JoJo’s we all arrived at the ungodly hour of 7am. But the early call time didn’t dampen spirits and Laura spent much of the morning dancing about to the ‘80s music on the stereo, while Elizabeth caught up on emails in between shots.
‘I am craving Christmas like a child,’ Laura tells us. ‘I am so excited about having time at home. Last year I was doing a play and I only got a day and a half off. I’ll be wearing a reindeer onesie for the majority.’ In the Christmas episode, which is set nine months after we last saw the residents of Downton, she got to do scenes with Hollywood actor Paul Giamatti who plays her maverick American uncle, Harold Levinson. ‘Paul found filming Downton hilarious,’ Laura laughs. ‘He couldn’t get over [the fact] that in some of the scenes we just sit around drinking tea. He was like “This is great, but is this really it?”’
Laura Carmichael gets in the festive spirit [Grazia Instagram]
Meanwhile Illinois born Elizabeth told us that having Paul and Shirley MacLaine there was also a highlight for her. ‘It was like heaven having them on the set,’ she says. ‘I loved having other Americans there. I felt we spoke the same language.’ Elizabeth moved to London when she met her husband, director, Simon Curtis in 1992. Before that she enjoyed a successful career in Hollywood and had even been engaged to Sean Penn. ‘I was busy growing up and being a professional actor and, at times, that was difficult,’ she tells us. ‘Those two things are sometimes in conflict. You have to do all the stupid things kids need to do, but you’re in the glaring light of public opinion and I think when I was first working it was more uncommon for someone young to be successful. In my day, I found it slightly lonely because my friends were in such a different place in their lives and the people I was working with were so much older. I was in the middle of both worlds.’
On the day Elizabeth and Laura loved all the clothes we had called in, and Elizabeth was particularly taken with a metallic Roland Mouret number which she was eyeing up for awards season. Watch this space.
See Laura and Elizabeth in action on our shoot below...