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Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern makes rare comment about ex-fiancé Sean Penn

The Hollywood stars met on the set of 1984 movie Racing with the Moon

elizabeth mcgowen sean penn
Sharnaz Shahid
Sharnaz ShahidDeputy Online Editor
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Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern has reflected on her career in acting, and the path she could have taken had she married former partner Sean Penn.

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The former couple met on the set of their 1984 film Racing with the Moon, and soon after they fell in love and got engaged when Elizabeth was 23. However, the relationship was short-lived and continued on-and-off for two years.

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During her recent chat with Daily Mail, the actress explained: "There's a road I could have taken, but I decided to call it off. It just felt like we were on different tracks.

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"We were only in our early 20s. It would have been nothing short of a miracle had that become a lifelong partnership because we were both really young and figuring out who we were."

Sean went on to marry Madonna, while Elizabeth moved to England in 1992 and met now-husband, British film-maker Simon Curtis. They are now doting parents to two daughters - Matilda, 28, and Grace, 23.

elizabeth mcgowen sean penn film© Photo: Alamy

The pair met on the set of 1984 film Racing with the Moon

Elizabeth, who plays Lady Cora in the beloved period drama, previously touched upon her failed engagement with the publication, and described their relationship as "exhausting".

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"It was the frenzy of Sean's feelings that overwhelmed me," she said. "It was also the first real experience of boys I'd had, which was kind of nice. "In the beginning it was fun. We were a similar age and in the same place professionally, so we were experiencing everything together."

She added: "It was so exhausting, I couldn't sustain it. We also wanted to do different things. He likes to pretend he's not really a Hollywood person, but he is."

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