Former X-Files star Gillian Anderson reportedly turned down the part of Lady Grantham, Lord Robert Crawley’s American heiress wife on Downton Abbey. The part ended up going to Elizabeth McGovern instead. And we are so glad it all worked out.
Cora Crawley (née Levinson), Countess of Grantham (b. July 18, 1868 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is the daughter of Martha Levinson and the late Isidore Levinson (a dry goods multi-millionaire, the sister of Harold Levinson, the wife of Robert Crawley, the daughter-in-law of the late 6th Earl of Grantham and Violet Crawley, the sister-in-law of Rosamund and the late Marmaduke Painswick, the mother of Mary Crawley, Edith Crawley, and the late Sybil Branson, the mother-in-law of Tom Branson and the late Matthew Crawley. She is grandmother of Miss Sybil Branson and Master George Crawley. She is American and married into British nobility.
As a young woman, she was brought to London around the 18th July 1888for her first Season by her socially ambitious mother, in order to marry a member of the British nobility. During the season she met Robert Crawley, Viscount Downton, the future Earl of Grantham. Much to Robert’s mother’s chagrin, Cora became engaged to him and the two of them married in 1889. As part of their marriage contract, Cora’s fortune was tied to the family estate to prevent it from going bankrupt.